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‘Choose Life’ tags popular in Florida


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Florida’s “Choose Life” auto license plate is proving to be a popular choice among car owners. More than 28,000 people have chosen the bright yellow plate since August 2000, when it first became available. In its first six months, the tags outsold the yearly sales totals of 35 of the 50 vanity license plates available.

In most counties, the ratio of Choose Life tags amount to about four per one thousand sold. According to the Choose Life website, Okaloosa County in west Florida has sold the highest ratio with 10.8 per thousand cars; followed by Santa Rosa County with 8.2 per thousand. The lowest ratio is Dade County with 1.3 tags per thousand cars.

“My vision for Choose Life tags is that every state in the country have these specialty tags and that in Florida they are the most popular specialty tag sold,” said Russ Amerling national publicity coordinator for Choose Life, Inc., Amerling told Florida Baptist Witness that the Choose Life tags proceeds are to be used to facilitate and encourage adoption for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Twenty dollars of the purchase price of each vanity plate is returned to the county where the tag was purchased. The $20 contributions help organizations such as maternity homes and crisis pregnancy centers, which are committed to adoption. As of September, the effort had raised $578,000 to be distributed among such organizations.

“We are a non-profit organization that is pro-adoption,” Amerling said. “Our organization does not receive any of the money in the purchase of tags. We sell promotional items to keep Choose Life going.” The promotional items sold include ties, T-shirts, stickers, baseball caps and golf shirts with the Choose Life logo.

Amerling said that most of his time now is spent as an unofficial liaison to make sure that the funds collected by county governments is distributed to qualified agencies. He explained that this is new and uncharted territory for the counties so the process is not yet streamlined. Because of this involvement, he said that he needs more volunteers.

“I wish I could be cloned in every county,” he joked. “I need people who will catch the vision and be a contact person to promote the Choose Life tag.” A volunteer would be asked to visit churches in their county, set up displays and help promote wherever possible.

“I am amazed still at the number of Christians that do not know about the Choose Life tag in the state of Florida,” he said.

Other states have accepted or are interested in the specialty plates. Although allowed in Louisiana, an injunction has stopped the selling of the tags, and in South Carolina the law was just signed by the governor, according to Amerling. About 10 other state legislatures are considering the plates. The National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) has opposed the effort in Florida and in other states from the beginning, and continues to seek injunctions in the courts to stop sales of the “Choose Life” tags.

Amerling said that because of the out-of-state interest, Choose Life has a fund raising, outreach program for states that only require one tag on vehicles. Churches and organizations, who are pro-adoption, can sell the promotional tag that looks like the Florida tag but has the name of that particular state. A letter was sent by Amerling to approximately 500 pregnancy care centers in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. The tags, sold in lots of 10, cost the organization $6 to purchase, but can be sold for $20.

He hopes that this will not only help those organizations in funding, but also promote the idea of specialty tag for other states.

“This is a great fund raiser for ‘Walks for Life’ and banquets,” he wrote in the letter. “We will use the small profit we make on the tags to keep spreading the word about Choose Life license plate effort now going on across the country.

For more information, call 352-624-2854 or e-mail russ@choose-life.org or visit the organization’s website,www.choose-life.org.
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  • Janice Backer & Carolyn Nichols