Panhandling Ban Hits Colorado Firefighters' 'Fill The Boot' Fundraiser

Updated: 03-01-2007 11:16:18 AM

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Under Castle Rock's new panhandling ban, the Castle Rock Fire Department would not be allowed to collect money for its annual fundraiser Fill The Boot at street intersections.

On Tuesday night, Castle Rock's town council voted to ban panhandling on street corners within the town, which in turn bans anyone from asking for money at intersections.

Several local families who need that money told 7NEWS they are concerned.

"I think it's a silly ordinance," Yvonne Decker said.

For the past year, Decker and her 13-year-old daughter who has muscular dystrophy have fought Castle Rock Town Hall's plan to ban panhandlers.

Decker said she is against the ban because the ordinance also makes it illegal for firefighters to collect money on street corners for its muscular dystrophy fundraiser.

"It's going to do MDA a great disservice," Decker said.

Castle Rock's mayor, Randy Reed, and the Town Council said the ordinance is not aimed at the fire department or the Muscular Dystrophy Association but said it's an issue of public safety.

"The problem is motorists do not expect to see people in the street. Some of the panhandlers have become aggressive. Some are panhandling on people's windows," Reed said.

For some firefighters, the ordinance came as a disappointment, ending a long-time tradition.

"We found that jurisdictions that did this kind of restriction usually had a 30 to 50 percent reduction in collections," said Chief Art Morales of the Castle Rock Fire Department.

"If muscular dystrophy loses some of their funds, they're going to have to give up something," Decker said. "I certainly can't choose what that would be. I don't think any parent of a handicapped child would want to choose."

The fire department said the new law won't change its commitment to MDA and the community.