Travelers donate spare change for the less fortunate

People passing through Rapid City Regional Airport dig deep to help people less fortunate
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to TSA, in 2019 more than $900,000 in unclaimed money was collected at TSA checkpoints around the country. The Rapid City Regional Airport uses the funds they collect to help the community.

The Empty Pockets=Full Plates program was started in 2017 after learning about how much change is left at TSA checkpoints nationwide. The funds collected for this program is mostly spare pocket change. However, Toni Broom, deputy director of finance for the airport, says they have seen some people put big bills in the donation boxes as well.

“It’s an exciting program, it was actually started by a former employee of ours back in 2017. Since that time, we have collected an average of about $3,000 a year. We then take those funds, and we will often serve a breakfast down at the Cornerstone Mission,” said Broom.

The funds aren’t only used for providing breakfast to those at Cornerstone, they are also used for other purposes year-round.

“And then what we do with those funds as well, is at Christmas time well do blessing bags, or well find out what the need is. Come down there with some big jugs of laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, whatever it is that they need. So we make sure that those funds truly benefit the members and folks using the cornerstone mission,” Broom continued

Broom also says the public’s generosity is appreciated, and this program puts the money to good use, instead of being wasted.