The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
In the midst of phones ringing relentlessly and radios crackling like crows at Fire Station No. 1, the Port Arthur Firefighters Association Local 397 kicked off its annual Fill-the-Boot Campaign Monday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
For three consecutive Fridays starting this Friday, Port Arthur firefighters — some on duty, some volunteering — will be standing out on busy intersections around the city to “fill the boot” with enough money to help the 300 families the MDA assists locally.
Firefighters will be out — boots in hand — April 5, 12 and 19.
Michael Adaway, an engineer with the Port Arthur Fire Department, has been out on Fill-the-Boot campaigns twice before, and he was more than ready to give it another go.
“It’s fun. I always see a lot of friends whenever we’re standing out, depending on what intersection we’re at,” Adaway said. “It’s a little bit of a challenge to see — between the guys in the crew — who can collect the most money that particular shift.”
But the best part for Adaway and probably the other firefighters who volunteer to stand around outside for hours, tilting boots toward car windows so drivers may drop in dollars or cents, is the opportunity to interact with the community.
“You will see all walks of life give money,” Adaway said. “It’s really surprising.”
Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince, who read a proclamation in honor of the event, placed the first dollars in the boot Monday morning.
The local 397 has raised more than $55,000 for the MDA over the past 10 years, said Sophie Freeman, fundraiser coordinator for the MDA. This year, the nonprofit health agency hoped to collect at least $10,000.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do for our families without their donations and their support,” Freeman said.
Battalion Chief Jay Fountain said the community’s reaction to the Fill-the-Boot Campaign has never disappointed.
“It’s amazing when we go out and raise this money,” he said. “People will give you their last dollars.”
Plus, the campaign has never been boring.
“We’re standing in the middle of the road, talking to people,” Fountain said. “We like to get out and use any excuse to talk to the people — even standing in the middle of the road.”
MDA, a nonprofit health organization, focuses its resources on defeating neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans, according to a press release. Its program includes nine forms of muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), spinal muscular atrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and other neuromuscular conditions.