By Greg Gelpi
Functioning as if a city in and of itself, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has many of the elements of a city, including poor, homeless and runaways.
To address these problems and strengthen the bonds of the community, the airport's Interfaith Chapel began a program to save airport employees money and boost airport business, while raising funds for the chapel and its outreach services.
The Rev. Chester R. Cook, senior chaplain and executive director of the chapel, announced the sale of discount cards for airport employees, so that they can save money while making purchases at the airport. Sales from the $10 discount cards will in turn help fund the chapel.
Although many employees eating in the airport's atrium weren't aware of the card, Cook said he hopes to get the word out, adding that the program has just begun.
"To the life of me, I don't understand why anybody wouldn't want a card," Cook said.
Discounts range from 10 percent to 15 percent on purchases in all five concourses. To receive the discount, airport employees clip the discount card to their airport identification and show it to participating vendors.
Employees can easily save a dollar a day by using the card to buy lunch, Cook said. In no time, the card pays for itself.
With about 56,000 employees at Hartsfield-Jackson, Cook said he is hoping that 10 percent of employees buy a card, which would be enough to fund outreach services at the chapel.
"It would be great to have about 20 percent or more," he said. "I feel that everyone in the airport should support the chapel."
Chapel staff cares for runaways, homeless and others in need who pass through the airport, Cook said, calling it the "extreme level of customer service."
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of times when I have to say 'I'm sorry. We don't have any money,'" he said.
Discount cards are available at Capitol City Bank, Travelex and Decu in the airport and can be redeemed at more than 55 locations.
"This is the very first year, and hopefully next year we'll have 10 or 15 more (vendors participating)," Cook said.
For more information on the chapel, visit www.airportchapel.org.