Turn your traffic ticket into donations for the needy

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Every day parking enforcement officer Chuck Maia does the dirty work for the Hanover Park Police Department, writing tickets for parking violations. But this holiday season, his work could just be the ticket for the Township Food Pantry, which is in need of help stocking the shelves.

“On average the township serves approximately 850 families (each month), but during the festive moments, we have Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number spikes,” said Hanover Township Trustee Steve Caramelli.

This year, the Hanover Park Police Department is running a pilot program called Food For Fines. It allows anyone who gets a $50 parking ticket to get it voided by bringing the ticket and 10 cans of food to the police department.

The program was the idea of Records Clerk Laura Roberts, who heard on the radio about a similar program in Lexington, Kentucky and suggested it to her boss.

“Not everything that we do is just aimed at ticketing everyone all the time and never giving anyone a break. This is a chance to send a message that if everyone does a little bit we can accomplish a lot,” said Deputy Chief Andy Johnson with the Hanover Park Police.

The police department promoted the program on its Facebook page and it's already proven to be a "can-do" idea.

“People have started to bring canned goods in just because, they didn't get tickets, they just brought them in thought the program was a good thing and one to donate just because,” Laura Roberts said.

When he came home from work Thursday night, Lucasz Rozpadek discovered his own personal invitation to take part in the program: a $50 ticket on his windshield. What did he think of the program?

“I like it and it's a good thing to do anyway,” Rozpadek said.

He says he has supported the food pantry before and figures buying 10 cans of food to pay off his ticket will cost him about $15. He plans to buy a few extra cans.

The program runs December 17-31. Anyone getting a $50 ticket has 10 days to bring it and the food in to get the ticket voided.

The village, which issues hundreds of tickets each month, figures it could lose out on thousands of dollars, but it’s going to a good cause: to help those in need this holiday season.