Over the years I have given time and money to many charities or community groups. I have given time and money to Bean’s Café, helped serve Thanksgiving dinner one year, served on the board and gave to Alaska Children’s Services, in honor of my lovely bride Noru I still give to various cancer research societies, and I have given to MDA from time to time.
I served as board member and President of Abbott-O-Rabbitt Little League and spent countless hours coaching, from t-ball to majors and juniors allstars. But, in all of that it never once occurred to me to get paid while I was giving.
So, all the recent flap about our good firefighters getting paid or not getting paid while they collect donations from all of us for MDA in the “Fill the Boot” event, just has me puzzled. Let me start by saying that I think the Fill the Boot event is great and fun. I have seen the firemen out there as I drive home from work and I have emptied my wallet or change container into the boot more than a few times. But, do these fine guys really need to be paid to do this?
I know a few firemen, and I seriously doubt that the fact that they aren’t getting paid to peruse cars while smiling and shaking their boot, would stop them from giving their time and effort to MDA. Those guys give from the heart just like you and I do when we put money in the boot. I really doubt that this event will be hurt if our honorable firemen have to do this off-the-clock.
My bet is that it is not the firemen who are demanding payment for this charitable effort. So who is? Maybe I should go back and read closer, but in all of this I cannot remember seeing anything that reflected comments by firemen complaining about Mayor Sullivan’s decision, or that they were the motivating force behind the demand for payment.
I can see it now, I come to my friend Robin and say “I’ll be down at Bean’s serving soup for the next two hours, I’m taking the staff with me, and so we’ll be billing our time to the firm.” Heh! I can see his face puckering up now. Now, don’t be too hard on old sour puss Robin, cause the guy gives a lot, its just that I’m pretty sure this would be over the top for him. And, truth is I’d never do this to him because . . . well, you know right? It just wouldn’t be right for me to expect payment for . . . Charity, or to give his money away for him.
When you consider that the firemen are paid on public dollars, it just makes it all that much more out-of-place. Public dollars are for public service. Charitable time and charitable dollars ought to be separate. You really don’t have to tap public resources to convince most Anchoragites to give. Most of us, including our fine firemen, are more than willing to pitch in and donate.
So, how about we just let our firemen give from their hearts like the rest of us. I am betting they will do so without missing a beat. And, I’d lay odds that the City and the Mayor won’t care if they use their work boots when they voluntarily collect for MDA.
So, let’s fill that boot you guys. Hustle down those curbs and shake it. And, make sure to find my car, I’d like to help. As would a lot of others in town.