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Firefighters "Fill the Boot" for MDA

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton Fire Department set up outside Lawton Walmarts for the annual "Fill the Boot" fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

However, the fire fighters normally stand in the medians of roadways to accept donations, but because of the new panhandling ordinance, they were forced to make a change of scenery.

It had a very big impact, and unfortunately not for the better. The executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association said people are still being very generous with their donations, but they're not seeing as many people because of the location.

For the past 60 years, fire departments have partnered with MDA and fire fighters walked past your car at a red light asking for donations, but this year was a little different being outside a store.

"We do anticipate that it's going to affect the amount we’re able to raise just because it is so convenient for people when we're out at an intersection,” said Chris Jones, the Lawton Fire Department Coordinator.

The new panhandling ordinance no longer allows anyone to be in the medians, including the city's fire fighters. The executive director of MDA, Lori Seymore, says this change has put a toll on the fundraiser.

"It's about the convenience really. Being on the streets allows us to catch people on their way to somewhere, where being at the Walmarts, although we're grateful for that, it's more about making a specific visit, and so it's going to impact it substantially, I’m afraid,” Seymore said.

Jones said in the past, they have had no problem reaching their goal of $30,000 but now that people have to come to them, the goal is $20,000. After this campaign ends, they'll look and see if they need to come out again.

"As of right now we don't have any plans, but we will be out here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10-6 p.m.,” said Jones.

The panhandling ordinance was passed in February due to safety concerns.

This event is the largest of all the fundraisers for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  All the donations will go to families affected by neuromuscular diseases.

"We're grateful for everything they do for us and all the families that are affected of it, so we'd love to see people come by and just give us a little bit of change or a few dollars. Every little bit helps,” Jones said.

Over the past 63 years, MDA has raised more than $500 million for muscular dystrophy.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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