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Donations for citations: UT students pay for parking tickets with food donations

The University of Tennessee delivered more than 2,200 food and personal care donations to Smokey's Pantry on Wednesday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Parking tickets can be annoying for University of Tennessee students, but they can also be opportunities to donate to a good cause.

The university delivered more than 2,200 donations of food and personal care items to Smokey's Pantry on Tuesday. The donations were given through the Donations for Citations program.

The program gives students, staff and faculty the chance to pay off up to $32 worth of university parking tickets in exchange for donations. Only tickets for not having a permit or parking in an unauthorized area can be paid through the program.

"It actually was an initiative of the Student Government Association," said Moira Bindner, a communications and customer service manager at UT. "They'd seen other universities doing it, so they made a resolution last year and we as a parking office have implemented this program."

For each qualifying ticket, people should donate five full-sized, non-perishable items to the Parking and Transit office. Participants must also request the citation to be dismissed within 13 days after it was issued.

The Donations for Citations program is run through the UT Parking and Transit Services department. It is meant to help alleviate stress by offering an alternative way to pay for parking citations while also helping the campus community who struggle with food insecurity.

It started April 1, 2020, officials said. Officials said that 440 citations were dismissed through the program, valued at more than $12,000. A full list of items that Smokey's Pantry needs is available online.