For the first time in several years, Castle Rock, CO Local 4116 members participated in a Fill-the-Boot campaign this Labor Day weekend as per tradition, collecting one of their highest totals ever — $45,000.

Until recently, the Town of Castle Rock enforced an anti-panhandling ordinance that put significant limitations on the way fire fighters collected through Fill-the-Boot.

“When the Town Council agreed to amend the ordinance, it made a big difference,” says Local 4116 President Adam Gallegos. “We were proud to be out there, doing our best for MDA.”

In 2007, the Castle Rock Town Council passed the ordinance prohibiting panhandling after several residents complained that they felt unsafe when strangers approached their vehicles to ask for money. Unfortunately, the new ordinance did not provide any exemptions for charitable collections, which meant the members of Local 4116 could no longer collect for MDA on street corners and intersections.

“Because we weren’t as visible as we were in past years, we saw an immediate 60 percent drop in our MDA fundraising totals,” says Gallegos. “In subsequent years, we got creative with our boot drives and were able to steadily bring the totals back up. But, the ordinance kept us from doing as much as we wanted to do.”

In 2012, the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters (CPFF) successfully lobbied to change the state solicitation law to allow fire fighters to collect donations from street intersections. Until then, state law prohibited anyone from asking for money on any of the state’s roads and streets.

Castle Rock Local 4116 members requested that the Town Council amend the town ordinance to reflect provisions of the revised state law. The Council agreed.

This was the first year that Local 4116 collected under the amended ordinance.