Community Connect
Office of the Vice President for Community Services

Campus Services

Toys for Tickets: Parking Citation Donations Drive Holiday Cheer

By Lauren Beaver

Campus Services employees with the Toys for Tickets donations.

Campus Services employees with the Toys for Tickets donations.

The UTSA community is familiar with Campus Services' Peanut Butter Parking Campaign, an annual event at the start of the fall semester in which eligible parking citations can be paid with a donation of peanut butter. For more on that campaign, check out "A Nutty Idea: Peanut Butter Payments" in the 2016 edition of Community Connect. Branching off of that successful initiative, Campus Services hosts a second annual donation event called Citation Donation Days, supporting a different charity each academic year.

Similar to the Peanut Butter Parking Campaign, Campus Services uses Citation Donation Days as educational initiatives and opportunities for people to give back to the local community. The most recent example occurred in Fall 2016. Campus Services went all out with holiday cheer, launching Citation Donation Days: Toys for Tickets during the week following Thanksgiving.

Developed in partnership with the UTSA Student Government Association and San Antonio's Elf Louise Christmas Project, Toys for Tickets operated as a holiday toy drive with a twist. During the event, customers received 50 percent off any one outstanding UTSA parking citation with the donation of a children's toy. A few rules applied: toys needed to be new, valued at $5 or more, non-violent, and donated during the specified event week. When individuals brought in citations, Campus Services employees educated them about the cause so they could avoid similar situations in the future. At the same time, students were able to clear outstanding citations prior to the end of the semester or, in some cases, graduation.

Staff holding toys and a flyer for Toys for Tickets

As customers generously brought in toys-some for citation payments and some simply as kind-hearted donations to Elf Louise-the toy display in the main office grew rapidly. At the end of the campaign, Campus Services collected 140 toys and saved students more than $3,500 in citation fees. The following week, a group of Campus Services employees delivered the toys to the Elf Louise workshop to benefit local families in need. Each holiday season, Elf Louise serves more than 5,700 families in the San Antonio area and brings smiles to thousands of children. Campus Services' engagement with the community and Elf Louise didn't stop at the end of the Toys for Tickets campaign. Following the event, a group of Campus Services employees joined Elf Louise in mid-December to distribute gifts. Volunteers visited local neighborhoods and apartment complexes to deliver toys to children, who were thrilled to have a visit from Santa and his helpers.

Advertising flyer used during the Toys for Tickets campaign.

Advertising flyer used during the Toys for Tickets campaign.

"Toys for Tickets was an amazing initiative that not only helped the UTSA community, but the San Antonio area as well. Each gift that came in brought a little joy to someone who may not have received a gift otherwise," said Leonardo Amaro, a Campus Services employee who met with many of the customers throughout the campaign and helped organize department volunteers for the Elf Louise gift deliveries. "I remember one little girl's smile when she got a gift-she was dancing around in excitement. I am very proud of UTSA and Campus Services for engaging with the local community in this way."

Campus Services looks forward to partnering with other local area charities for future Citation Donation Days. Students will continue to benefit from citation discounts and educational opportunities. These events offer the campus community creative and unique opportunities to engage with and give back to those in need around San Antonio.

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