- May 28, 2016
WINTER GARDEN If you’ve stopped by the West Point Commons Publix in Winter Garden lately, you might have seen firefighters stationed outside, holding boots to fill with money.
The annual “Fill the Boot” fundraiser is the result of a decades-long partnership between the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“It’s extremely important to us, something we in Winter Garden have been involved with even before we organized as a union,” said Jason Schneider, president of the Winter Garden Professional Firefighters. “It’s such a worthwhile cause, a great charity and they do great work. The work the MDA does is absolutely fantastic, so we’re proud to be a part of it and to play our role.”
In addition to the fundraiser, WGPF volunteers annually at the local MDA summer camp, held at Camp Thunderbird. The firefighters cook for the counselors and campers and get to meet the kids for which they are raising funds.
“It’s one of those things where you get to be there face-to-face with the people your fundraising is actually helping,” Schneider said. “It’s one of our favorite events of the year.”
The firefighters from Winter Garden Fire Rescue and WGPF collaborate to make the fundraiser successful, and both on- and off-duty units are able to help man the table outside Publix and collect money to fill the boots. The collaboration allows units to stay in service so there is no lapse in fire-rescue coverage, should a call come in.
Although WGPF doesn’t have a set goal for fundraising, many members are competitive by nature and try to raise more than they did the previous year. The money collected will be counted before WGPF and the fire department team up to present a check to the local MDA coordinator.
“We appreciate the support from the fire department and the city,” Schneider said. “It’s important to us that we do give back — we have charities we support that mean a lot to us within the fire service, and this is definitely one of them. This year it felt a little extra special for us, and we’re happy to be able to do our part.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected]