GREENFIELD — Greenfield firefighters will take up posts around the city next week hoping the community will continue a tradition of generosity for the annual Fill the Boot campaign.
On the next three Fridays, firefighters will stand at roundabouts with boots in hand asking for passing drivers to write checks or toss in some spare change to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association. For more than 60 years, fire departments across the country have partnered with the association and raised thousands each year to help people with muscular diseases.
The campaign is a chance for firefighters to interact with the people they serve while bringing attention to a good cause, said Jason Davis, a Greenfield firefighter who helps organize the effort each year. The local firefighters who participate are always excited to do so and to know they are helping people with a tough road to battle, he said.
“Everyone (who helps) gets really into it,” he said.
Local firefighters will kick off the fundraiser with a celebration at 9 a.m. Monday at the Greenfield Fire Station, 17 W. South St. The public is invited to attend.
From there, the effort continues Aug. 14, 21 and 28, when Greenfield firefighters will collect money at the roundabout at Broadway Street and McKenzie Road and the roundabout at Apple Street and McKenzie Road.
Those wishing to donate can stop and drop their donations into the boot before rolling on their way, Davis said.
Fill the Boot is an effort organized each year by the local firefighters union, and even though that organization is separate from the department, Greenfield Fire Department Chief James Roberts said he supports his firefighters’ desire to help those in need.
“The more these guys do to help the community, the better they feel,” Roberts said.
The effort faced an obstacle in 2014 when it came to light that a city ordinance prohibits people from soliciting money in the streets. City leaders were able to find a loophole in the rule that allowed groups, like firefighters, to hold fundraisers on curbsides.
The scuffle didn’t stop Greenfield residents from bringing in a sizable contribution, organizers said. In fact, Greenfield is one of the top contributors each year to the Fill the Boot effort, said Haley Morris, a spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2014, the city’s firefighters collected more than $16,000, and they have set a goal to raise $17,500 in 2015, she said.
Safety is a top concern, and firefighters who opt to participate watch a training video and take a short refresher course on protocols before the campaign begins, said firefighter Scott Elliott, who is helping to organize the fundraiser this year.
Organizers request drivers take special care when they see firefighters standing near the roadway. They will be wearing reflective vests, and Davis reminded residents to drive slowly and watch for slowed traffic.
Firefighters do more for the association than any other group, executive director Rob Springer said in a news release.
“We’re grateful for the support of these inspiring, selfless individuals who have made a profound impact on our families’ health, well-being and quality of life,” Springer said.
All the money raised in Central Indiana stays here, helping Hoosiers with muscular dystrophy and other life-threatening muscular diseases, Morris said. Local Fill the Boot efforts supports clinics at Riley Hospital for Children and the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center in Indianapolis and summer camps for kids with muscle disease.