By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Fire Department will return to the intersection of Division and Main streets next week for its annual “Fill the Boot” campaign.
The annual fundraiser benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association; a longtime charity of fire departments around the country.
“We’ve been doing this a long time,” said Firefighter Tom Wastart. “It’s something I’ve been passionate about for the nine years I’ve been here, along with the entire department.”
Wastart said funds raised during the two-day fundraising drive helps pay the medical expenses for kids affected by the disease, but it also helps pay for the kids’ popular summer camp.
“I’ve been to the summer camp several times and have seen the joy that it brings to these children,” Wastart said. “They call it ‘the best week of their life.’ This opportunity would not be possible without the generous donations provided by the residents of Stevens Point and Portage County.”
Wastart is a member, along with most others from SPFD, of International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 484. During last year’s fundraising event, the group raised $15,363 — well over their goal — for the MDA in just two days of greeting drivers during red lights at the intersection.
This year’s goal is $16,000, and Wastart thinks they could beat it again.
“People in this community are so generous, it’s really amazing,” he said. “Just look at what we did last year during those two days. People here are great.”
In 2015, firefighters across the nation raised $22.7 million for the MDA, according to Heather Buchberger, Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraising coordinator.
“What’s really amazing about that total is the fact that MDA put $28 million just into research last year,” said Buchberger. “So the money raised by firefighters practically paid for the MDA’s research.”
Firefighters, along with other volunteers, will take donations from motorists during red lights and other passersby at the intersection of Division and Main streets between noon and 6 PM on Aug. 11 and 12.