Something good has come out of those pesky parking tickets.
Thanks to a new Food 4 Fines program, the University of the Ozarks’ Office of Public Safety on Friday donated a large barrel of canned goods to the Clarksville School District’s backpack program, which serves underprivileged families.
The Food 4 Fines program was started earlier this semester and allows students, faculty and staff who receive parking tickets on campus to donate $10 worth of food to pay off their first parking ticket, which typically runs $50.
“As you can imagine, this program has been quite popular,” said Larry Graham, director of public safety. “When people realize that they have the option of bringing in canned goods instead of paying a $50 fine, they’re usually pretty happy. Plus, they feel good about doing something that benefits the community and children.”
University Chaplain Rev. Jeremy Wilhelmi and several students helped Graham box up the canned goods and deliver them to Pyron Elementary School, where they will be distributed through the school’s backpack program.
Graham said the idea for the program came from U of O Wrestling Coach LeRoy Gardner, who had seen a similar program at another university. He said approximately 30 people have donated canned goods this semester in lieu of paying their parking fines.
“We feel like the program has been a success and we plan to keep it going,” Graham said. “We feel like there are still deterrents to illegal parking, but that this program gives first offenders an option to turn something bad, like a parking ticket, into something positive, like helping people.”
University officials said the Food 4 Fines program applies only to first-time offenders.