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Motorist: Gift cards are better than tickets

Jackie Harding, a registered nurse, was on her way home from work at a local hospital on April 26 when she was pulled over by a Homewood police officer. One of her headlights was out.

If she was annoyed, her mood soon changed.

“Instead of this officer giving me a ticket for the traffic stop, he gave me an Advance Auto gift card in the amount of $25, said ‘Nurses rock,'” she posted that night on Facebook. “My heart is filled. This is so awesome to see them doing something good in the neighborhoods!”

Harding was a beneficiary of a program sponsored by Advance Auto Parts in partnership with the police department. When the company held its grand opening in March at its Homewood location, 18026 Halsted Street, store manager Mandy Lewis and district manager Deanna Layne provided HPD with 60 of the $25 gift cards, according to Police Chief Denise McGrath.


Layne said at the time that the company had provided gift cards at locations in other states, but Homewood is the first community in Illinois to benefit.

“We’ve distributed just over 30 cards,” McGrath said on Saturday, April 30, noting the response has been all positive so far. “It helps us build a partnership with a new business in town. It helps us connect with the community. To me it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Motorists certainly prefer a little help with minor vehicle repairs over a ticket for an infraction. Another 30 or so motorists could receive that pleasant surprise before the supply runs out.

McGrath said she does not expect the program to continue after the cards are gone, but officers will turn to new community engagement projects.

The department staff regularly does charitable work and has raised money for the Cancer Support Center, Special Olympics and other local causes.

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