Recipients of parking tickets in Hillsborough have been given a unique opportunity to spread holiday cheer by substituting food for fines.

During the month of December, the Hillsborough Police Department will accept payments of five non-perishable food items for any $10 parking fine administered within city limits.

The distribution of food items is being coordinated by the Hillsborough Police Department and the Orange Congregations in Mission, a non-profit outreach ministry that has served Orange County since 1981. Patrol officers will inform citizens of the unusual program with any parking tickets issued through the end of 2016.

Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton noted in a press release that “many families may go without a meal” during the holiday season, and that “we are reflecting on ways that we can all help our community.”

Parking fines in Hillsborough may still be paid through the usual channels, but food items donated in lieu of monetary payments must be presented at the main police station on Churton St during regular business hours.

The department is also collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys for an annual visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus that is scheduled for December 13.