City Council Tables Vote on Caritable Solicitation

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Knoxville charities can still take to the streets to raise money, at least for now. Tuesday night, city council unanimously voted to table an ordinance that would've banned groups from collecting donations in Knoxville's streets.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there and has more on what this means.

The discussion of this ordnance as it stands now is done, but council can still discuss alternatives. This all goes back to July. That's when the Knoxville Fire Department wanted to collect money for it's annual boot drive at new intersections, but instead of updating the ordinance, some council members wanted to ban it entirely.

A vote that gives Jeff Jones and his 11-year-old son, Colby, hope.

"It could be the difference for a cure for my son. It could be the difference that he walks again. It could be the difference if my son lives or dies," Jones said.

Colby suffers from Muscular Dystrophy. Tuesday, Knoxville City Council could've kicked charities collecting money for Muscular Dystrophy Association on city streets to the curb. The idea brought begging...

"Don't pass this ordinance," said Ken Holdert from Tennessee Right to Life.

And tears from charitable from the MDA and the Kerbela Shriners.

"We've done these charitable donations on the streets of Knoxville for 57 years," said Scott Jones, the Kerbela Shriner lawyer.

They can still hit the streets for now. Council unanimously voted to table the ordinance ending any talks on the ordinance as it reads now.

"We're extremely pleased that the democratic process has worked," Jones said.

Council says safety for those holding the buckets was their top concern.

"Because some of these intersections had five lanes and lane turning left and right on turn lights too. so there's no time that was safe," councilwoman Barbara Pelot said.

Council acknowledged no one's been hurt collecting money in Knoxville, but it wasn't it's only worry.

"In all honesty many of those solicitations aren't permitted properly and it was hard to enforce permitting," Pelot said.

Knoxville Firefighters take to the streets annually to raise money for MDA. Last year they collected $21,000 dollars.

"We understand the safety concern especially being in the emergency services businesses," Knoxville Firefighter Brent Seymour said.

Last year the Shriners raised about $700,000 on the streets of East Tennessee.

"Over 93 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to children for orthopedic and burn care," Scott Jones said.

Money that can continue to come in.

"There's hope for tomorrow," Jeff Jones said.

The Kerbela Shriners have considered collecting money at shopping center parking lots, but that requires the landlord's permission.

The Shriners attorney says they now have insurance for all those collecting money. Council expects to create a committee to discuss alternatives. That will include representatives from MDA and the Shriners, as well as Tennessee Right to Life.

They expect to have that formed by January.


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