Lynchburg Firefighters Making Comeback With 'Fill the Boot' Campaign

Lynchburg, VA- Lynchburg firefighters are starting up their Fill the Boot Campaign again, and after surpassing their fundraising goal last year, their sights are set high.

But it's taken a couple years for the campaign to get back on track after a change to a panhandling ordinance in the Hill City. The change to the ordinance made it illegal to solicit money while standing in the road, median, crosswalk, or even in parking lots. Those are all places that used to fill the boot pretty fast. But firefighters have bounced back, and are once again climbing that ladder to fundraising success.

"We're just very pleased to be able to work with them," said Leslie Bauguss, an MDA Fundraising Coordinator.

"We take this to heart and this is now kind of our brand," said Abby Johnston, President of the Lynchburg Firefighters Association.

And come Fill the Boot time, you used to see firefighters at street intersections, collecting donations during stoplights.

"Typically they collect about three times as much being in the streets, at the intersections while the traffic is passing," said Bauguss.

But a 2006 amendment to section 27, article four of Lynchburg's city code, did away with that curb-side collecting.

"After that ordinance changed and we were no longer able to do that, donations did drop off quite a bit," said Johnston.

That meant the MDA wasn't getting some crucial funding.

"It's extremely important to our office making budget and being able to continue providing services for our families," said Bauguss.

They provide services for families like the Sterne's.

"Daniel was diagnosed with duchenne muscular dystrophy in June of 2010," said Erick Sterne, referring to his son, Daniel.

And since 2010 the MDA has helped the Sterne's with Daniel's visits to special clinics, and has sent him to camp the past three summers, so he can do things like riding horses and boats.

Kids like Daniel are the reason firefighters found a way around that ordinance. And with a goal of $37,000 this year, their fundraising is on fire.

"And you can't beat the heart and passion of a firefighter. When they finally, when they get something locked in as their goal and their passion, you need, you better look out," said Johnston.

The Lynchburg Firefighters Association has kicked up its fundraising efforts yet again this year. They've posted a link on their website so you can donate online.