Anyone passing through Greenville between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today can “fill the boot,” but they may have to go out of their way to do it.

“Everything’s good to go,” said firefighter Brian Albaugh, chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association fund drive held yearly by members of International Association of Fire Fighters Greenville Local 1976.

Albaugh and five other firefighters will be standing in the parking lots of National City Bank, 272 Main St., and Greenville Savings Bank, 233 Main St. Both banks are near the part of Main Street closed for streetscape construction and are surrounded by detour signs directing drivers to use side streets.

Albaugh said he hopes that doesn’t discourage people from donating to a good cause. Firefighters recently learned about a state law that prohibits anyone from standing in any road to collect donations. They’ve been collecting money since 1968 by standing at Main and College Avenue.

News of the firefighters’ dilemma reached the national headquarters of MDA. Bob Mackle, vice president for public information for MDA, called the situation “unfortunate.”

“We’re hopeful that the publicity will actually help ... and that people will seek out the firefighters and offset the damage” this has done, Mackle said from Las Vegas, where he was preparing for MDA’s annual Labor Day Telethon.

Albaugh got a headstart on collecting donations by placing MDA cans in Greenville businesses, which by Thursday had netted about $80. Several people have dropped off donations at the fire station on East Avenue, another way people can contribute to MDA, he said.

Mackle said from time to time, MDA volunteers across the country have encountered problems similar to Greenville’s. “We’ve been very successful” in resolving them and “we’ll make every effort to reach a compromise to allow them to continue to work for us in Pennsylvania,” he said.

David Eckman, president of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, said the law can’t be bent for the firefighters because that means other groups will want the same treatment. The notion that the firefighters may raise less money because of where they have to stand is unfortunate because the drive is for a worthy cause, he said.

“The kids that we’re collecting for are victims,” he said.

Eckman said he hopes people who have donated in the past will make a small detour today to drop their donations for “Jerry’s Kids” into Greenville firefighters’ boots. He knows expectations aren’t very high for how much money will be raised, but he has faith in the firefighters and donors.

“They do a tremendous job and the people of Greenville are very supportive. I know our guys out there are working their way through this,” Eckman said.

Last year, Greenville firefighters collected more than $6,000 for MDA.

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