Annual parking-ticket amnesty program underway

FAMU provides opportunity for students to pay off parking tickets
Photo by Tracey Belizaire

Florida A&M University’s Adopt-A-Family Amnesty Program is back for another holiday season to aid local families in need — and students.

The Department of Campus Safety & Security and the Office of Parking & Transportation have teamed up to present a parking ticket amnesty program designed for FAMU students, faculty, staff and visitors. The program allows an exchange of gift cards for the less fortunate to replace accumulated parking tickets.

Allison McNealy, director of parking and transportation at FAMU, looks forward to relaunching the program every year because of the impact it has for all parties.

“It’s our way of assisting students to pay down some of their parking tickets but the most important part is we’ll be assisting needy families and the elderly to make sure they have a Merry Christmas,” McNealy said.

The program began in 2015 under the direction of  FAMU Police Chief, Terrence Calloway. Since the launch of the program, the department transitioned from taking physical gifts to gift cards due to the specific needs outlined for each family.

Depending on the amount of outstanding tickets one may have, they are required to turn in a gift card in a selected amount to have all citations either cleared or reduced.

Senior environmental science student Harbria Gardner finds the opportunity beneficial for students like herself, especially because of the lack of parking on campus.

“I mean the parking tickets are kind of crazy,” Gardner said. “It’s a break in paying for tickets that you may have acquired throughout the semesters”

A variety of agencies are contacted around Tallahassee to ensure the right families receive the gift cards. Last year was the start of FAMU’s holiday giving at the local retirement homes in Tallahassee.

“They were very, very appreciative so we’ve decided this year we’ll continue to work with the elderly,” McNealy said.

As far as informing the student body, Associate Chief Traffic Court Justice Alexis Ethridge and the Judicial Branch of SGA work with parking services to inform students about the convenience.

“Every year a flyer is made for social media as well as through FAMU email,” Ethridge said.

Ethridge has utilized the program herself and appreciates the chance to pay her tickets at a much lower price.

“My freshman year you could bring toys or a gift card and I provided toys,” Ethridge said.

The Office of Parking & Transportation Services will only accept gift cards that are VISA or Master Card until Dec. 13.