When Variety KC picked up on a problem facing families, they decided to help by creating positive awareness.
A young Variety recipient, Catie, was frustrated by having to circle parking lots, waiting for able-bodied drivers to free up the disabled parking spots up front. This is particularly problematic for families needing the extra space to put down ramps for wheelchairs.
“We heard from Catie and her mother about this issue, and we wanted to help,” said Deborah Wiebrecht, executive director for Variety in Kansas City. “People and families with special needs rely on those spots, and we wanted more people to realize that those blue signs benefit a real person.”
Variety helped create parking signs that feature Variety Kids. Two years ago, Hy-Vee stores in the Kansas City area were the first to install the signs, placed right beneath the legal “disabled parking” signs. The kind reminder, along with the youthful smiling faces, personalizes the message.
The signs have a simple message: “Think of Me, Keep it Free.”
Local police departments report that the number of tickets at these locations have dropped to nearly zero. Community members took notice of Hy-Vee’s support of Variety’s effort, and local schools began asking for them.
“Apparently the ‘park and run in for just a second’ issue is very prevalent in school parking lots, buildings that primarily serve children and families,” said Weibrecht. “It seems that the more signs that are posted, the more requests we get! We receive daily feedback that people have seen the signs and families have been approached by strangers thanking them for raising awareness of this need and sharing that the signs have changed their parking behavior.”