Since 1954, firefighters from around North America have gathered donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in old fire boots.
In their fund-raising efforts, firefighters greet motorists on the street with the boots, bring them to community events, and many times hang a single boot outside the station to collect change. Last week, the boot outside of the Boston Fire Department’s North End station was stolen, cut open, and ransacked of donations.
When firefighters arrived early Thursday at the Hanover Street firehouse, home to Ladder 1 and Engine 8, they found the charity boot missing. Remnants were discovered in Paul Revere Park, cut open and without any of the donated cash.
Firefighters said they were not sure how much money was in the boot when it was stolen. They reported the theft to Boston police, but no suspect has been identified, said Steve MacDonald, Fire Department spokesman.
“All around the country, firefighters raise millions of dollars,” he said. “That money is raised with nickels, dimes, and dollar bills.”
The International Association of Firefighters has raised nearly $275 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association since the organization became the union’s official charity in 1954, according to the association website. Since the boot heist, a large number of North End residents have been stopping by the station with spare change, MacDonald said.
“It’s just one of those unfortunate things,” he said. “But the firefighters found another boot and put it out to collect donations.”