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Charities Might Be Able To 'Fill The Boot' Again Soon

Jun 29, 2017

Firefighters "Fill the Boot" Charity
Credit Seattle City Council / flickr.com

A ruling that outraged charities in Michigan could be overturned.  The state Senate has passed a bill to bring back roadside donation collections. 


Charities might once again be able to tap on your car window to ask for a donation.  The practice was wiped out last August.  That’s because the state Attorney General issued an opinion saying it was illegal.  On Wednesday, lawmakers in the state Senate passed a bill to legalize charitable solicitations at intersections. 

Monty Nye is with the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union.  He said their donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association got cut in half last year.  That’s because they weren’t able to do their annual “fill the boot” drive

“We have people every year we get out there say ‘oh you’re here, we’ve been waiting for you all summer,’” he said. 

Nye said they hope the bill becomes law in time for them to once again do the Fill the Boot campaign in July.  Initially, some local governments expressed concerns about a blanket allowance for these types of fundraiser.  Judy Allen is with the Michigan Townships Association.  She said safety is a big concern. 

“There are just some instances where it would not logically be safe to anyone in that intersection,” she said.

Lawmakers took these concerns into consideration when crafting the legislation.  Senator Tom Casperson said they want to give local governments some control, particularly with safety. 

“They feel an intersection is too dangerous, too heavily traveled, traffic’s going to fast; they have a right to say no to that particular spot,” he said.

Some people still think the practice is dangerous.  And others say having a large man with a boot come up to your window for money is annoying.

Nye said they’re just trying to make a few bucks for important causes.  

“We aren’t out there being, you know demanding money, give us money,” he said.  “We’re out there, we’re being pleasant.  If they don’t give we’re saying hello, you know, how are you today, have a great day.  It’s not high pressure why we’re out there.”

HB 4160 is waiting for a final vote in the House before it can make its way to the governor’s desk. 

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org