11/30/2012 04:57 pm ET

'Toys For Tickets' Lets Boston Residents Donate Gifts Instead Of Paying Parking Fines

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."