Seeing a bright orange envelope peeking out from beneath your windshield wiper is a surefire day-ruiner. Unless you live in Boston.
Through Saturday, any Bostonian with an outstanding parking ticket has the option to pay off the fine by donating an unwrapped gift of equal or greater value through the city’s “Toys for Tickets” program, which distributes the goods to underprivileged children. The campaign works in partnership with the Marines' "Toys for Tots" program.
Boston first launched the program in 1993, and though it's been around for nearly 20 years, "Toys for Tickets" has been playing a key role recently as the number of families struggling to afford holiday gifts continues to increase.
“During these difficult economic times, families are struggling everyday just to make ends meet,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a release about the initiative last year. “After putting food on the table and paying the bills, many parents and guardians don’t have the ability to buy toys. Unfortunately, this means that too many kids are missing out on the joys of the Holiday season."
"Toys for Tickets" brought in toys valued at $3,800 last year, according to Fenway Kenmore Patch. Plus, it helped wipe off the sour face that’s usually paired with paying for a parking ticket.
"Boston drivers routinely express to us their pleasure in having this opportunity to contribute to a charity while paying their bill at the same time," Emilee Ellison, spokesperson for Mayor Menino told Fenway Kenmore Patch. "In addition, some drivers choose to donate in excess of the original fine amount that is required when participating in this campaign."
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Anonymous Donor Gives $25K In Toys
Hope was renewed after an alleged thief stole the money from Chicago's Toys For Tots Foundation. To help replenish the supply and ensure Christmas joy for the thousands of area children the organization reaches, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-embezzlement-may-mean-fewer-toys-for-tots-20111220,0,7505109.story" target="_hplink">a generous donor gave $25,000, the <em>Chicago Tribune </em>reports.</a> His only request? To remain anonymous.
Anonymous Donor Leaves $10K On Doorstep
Money was inevitably tight for Maria Vargas, who spent her life's savings on monthly treatment as she battles Stage Four cancer. But that changed when Vargas received an anonymous check for <a href="http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/struggling-cancer-patient-receives-10000-check-bag/nFz4w/" target="_hplink">$10,000, left in a sack of avocados on her doorstep, KTVU reports.</a> The family had been protesting outside of a Kaiser facility, claiming misdiagnosis allowed a tumor to grow out of control.
Anonymous Donor Gives Kids 1,300 Bikes
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Anonymous Donors Pay Off Layaway Bills
Anonymous donations have caught on at stores across the country. Kindhearted Secret Santas are paying off remaining Kmart layaway balances for families nationwide, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/kmart-secret-santas-pay-strangers-layaway_n_1153210.html" target="_hplink">the <em>Associated Press</em> reported</a>. These Santas have started spreading the love to other stores as well, hitting up Wal-Marts in Joplin, Mo., according to the AP.
Anonymous Donor Gives Shelter
Sometimes gifts for children don't come in the form of a firetruck or a new doll. An anonymous donor paid for an extended motel stay for Kim Artis and her 10-year-old daughter and 18-year-old disabled son as holiday budgets threatened to put them on the streets, <a href="a href="http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x2105827220/Anonymous-donor-helps-woman-children-avoid-homelessness" target="_hplink"" target="_hplink">the <em>State Journal-Register </em>reported. </a>