As children with muscular dystrophy attend summer camp at Camp ASCCA in east Alabama this week, firefighters in Childersburg have started work on paying to send at least three kids to next year’s camp.
Throughout the United States and Canada, firefighters support the Muscular Dystrophy Association through a campaign called Fill the Boot, in which firefighters ask people to drop cash or coins into a firefighter’s boot, either at road blocks or outside busy stores. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is the largest national sponsor of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, according to IAFF’s website.
“More than 280,000 members of the IAFF in the United States and Canada are pledged to saving lives, both as firefighters and paramedics and as the strongest campaigners for the worldwide research efforts of MDA to eradicate 40 neuromuscular diseases,” the website said.
Since 1954, IAFF members have collected nearly $275 million for MDA.
“We’re planning to send three kids to camp next year,” said Childersburg acting chief Tim Shelnutt. He said camp costs $800 each, so the department’s goal is to raise $2,400.
Within the department, the three shifts – A, B and C – are having a friendly competition to see which one can raise the most money. In keeping with the A-B-C theme, their collections will provide scholarships to camp for children named Alyviah, Brian and Chance. All proceeds will go to MDA and the department will sponsor as many children as possible, firefighters said.
Shift B started the fund-raising on Friday with a road block on First Street at the intersections of Eighth and Ninth avenues, raising a little over $1,300 in three hours.
“On Friday, we knew it was probably payday for a lot of people,” said firefighter Ryan Lavender. “We went out at 3 o’clock because we figured some people might be getting off work early.”
Firefighter Zach Pendergrass said hundreds of people stopped and donated as the firefighters braved the afternoon heat until 6 p.m.
Shelnutt said Childersburg firefighters had supported MDA in years past, but this year’s campaign is the first time in several years the department has participated.
He said local residents can be on the lookout for shifts A and C to have Fill the Boot drives in coming weeks. Shift B firefighters said this year’s fundraising can continue through December, so they plan to raise as much money as possible for the charity.