Toys for tickets

The Town of Strathmore and Enforcement Services are giving people a chance to turn an unfortunate experience with a traffic ticket, into a positive opportunity this Christmas season.

Having started on Nov. 7, and running until Dec. 7, those who incur a municipal enforcement traffic ticket can opt to donate a new, unwrapped toy of equivalent value instead of paying the fine directly.

“We had an idea that this would be a great way for people who receive something unpleasant, like a parking ticket in town, that the person could make a donation of a new unused toy of equal value to the ticket,” said Town of Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule. “Rather than just paying the ticket, which is not a fun thing to do at any time, you could donate a new toy of that value, and then it goes directly to a child for Christmas. It turns an unpleasant, unfortunate situation into something that has a direct impact on a child’s Christmas Day.”

Fule explained similar programs have been operated in other towns and cities, which was readily adopted for Strathmore to experiment with the idea.

This year is the first in which Strathmore has operated this type of program. Fule said it is exciting to be able to put a positive spin on an otherwise negative experience, which may return in future years, or even at other times throughout a given year.

“If it is successful, and I think whatever we accomplish this year with toys for children through these parking tickets, is going to be a real improvement over other years where we didn’t do the program at all,” said Fule. “I’m sure that there’ll be some really nice toys donated this year in lieu of those parking tickets. This kind of program could also come back again, in another time of year – it could look at the food bank, for example, where instead of paying a ticket, you donate that kind of value as far as food or toiletry items.”

Any toys that are donated during the month-long program will be sent off to the Strathmore Wheatland Christmas Hamper Society.

According to Mark Pretzlaff, with the Town of Strathmore Community and Protective Services, protective services averages roughly 30 tickets a month for Strathmore motorists.

“I think this will be a very generous year for the Christmas Hamper. Obviously, we don’t want to limit people just to that if they get an enforcement ticket, that they can make a regular donation as well,” he said.

“We have always had an ongoing relationship with the Christmas Hamper. We recognize this need is always highlighted there at this time of year and we try to support them as best we can. I think this is just another avenue for the Strathmore residents and community to support the Christmas Hamper.”

The Christmas Hamper will be closing their donations window on Dec. 13 in order to be able to distribute all the hampers in time for Christmas.

Donations in lieu of ticket payments can be dropped off at the Town of Strathmore Municipal Building.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times