Community volunteers rallied around a common cause last Saturday: boots and barbeque.
Belton firefighters were informed earlier this summer of the City Attorney and City Council’s conclusion that collecting funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association while on-duty is not legal under the Missouri constitution. The fire department has held a boot block fundraiser every Labor Day weekend for many years, filling their boots with donations for the MDA while working on the clock.
As the community learned of the Council’s decision, several decided to do something to aid in the annual fundraiser. Using Facebook as a primary tool, they set up a “Boots and BBQ” event to be held in the parking lot of Heart-n-Hand Ministries. All donations raised would go directly toward the MDA.
“We just wanted to help the firefighters,” remarked Renee Crow, one of the event’s organizers.
After plans were underway for the barbeque, a Cass County judge made a decision which altered the original situation. By receiving a restraining order against the City of Belton through the end of August, the Belton fire department was able to raise funds on the clock on Friday and Saturday on Labor Day weekend. However, the Boots and BBQ event planners went forward with the event as planned, hoping to add to the funds raised by the fire department.
Because Sunday was the first day of September, firefighters volunteered on their own time to continue the boot block fundraiser.
According to Crow, Belton’s fire department has been the number-one fundraiser in the state during their MDA boot blocks. She and the other event planners wanted it to stay that way.
Crow, along with Rebecca Box and Angela Kraft, set up the event’s Facebook page and began spreading the word. Volunteers also sought out donations, and several businesses and individuals came through. Among the donors were Steak n’ Shake (contributing 116 burgers and 116 buns) and All Seasons (lending a food tent). The entire list of all contributors can be found in the “Notes” section of the Facebook group, “Boots & BBQ in Belton.”
“The support has been enormous,” remarked John Manford, who volunteered at the event and served as a liaison between Boots and BBQ and the fire department. Manford added that the event took “a lot of effort that a lot of people have put into this.”
First responders and tow truck drivers were able to eat at the event for free. The money that came from the members of the community purchased a meal went directly to the MDA. By the end of the day, the event raised $632.90. The firefighters themselves raised over $18,000 for MDA during the weekend’s boot block.