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Donations lag in annual Fill the Boot drive

August 28, 2018 GMT

Significant changes to how Fort Wayne firefighters were allowed to collect money for the annual Fill the Boot campaign meant volunteers were able to raise nearly a third of last year’s donations. 

The campaign, which raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, collected 110,000 collected in 2017. The 2018 campaign ran from Aug. 23 to 25. 

“We’re appreciative of all the support we got from the public this year,” Bush said. “Unfortunately with the change to being stationary in parking lots and working with businesses, we went from 37,000.” 

For years, each August a legion of firefighters could be found on street corners, rights-of-way and medians holding boots and asking for donations from passing drivers and pedestrians. This year, however, safety concerns prompted the city administration to move the collections to parking lots and inside participating businesses. 

Bush said the change was announced just a few days before the campaign was set to begin and was something the firefighters union did not agree with. The local MDA chapter also opposed the change. 

“This will have a major, negative impact on the funds raised for the organization and local families,” Sonja Cronin, the chapter’s executive director, said at the time.

Despite the major drop in donations, Bush said those who volunteered their time and businesses “did an amazing job.”

“It was amazing to see businesses and individuals out there step up,” Bush said. “It’s impressive, given the dramatic change. It’s a testament to the commitment we make as a department.” 

Bush added that this year’s setback won’t deter the fire department from participating next year. With a little more time to plan, Bush said he’s optimistic that the 2019 Fill the Boot campaign will come close to or surpass the 2017 donations. 

dgong@jg.net