Fredericksburg rescue squad fundraising drive impaired

The president of the Fredericksburg rescue squad worries services will have to be cut because the squad couldn’t reach their fundraising target. Members hit the streets for their annual fundraising drive on Saturday morning, but shortly thereafter, they say police ordered them to stop.

“He said that there had been a complaint, and once there had been a complaint they must shutdown all operations,” said Debbie Rice, president of the rescue squad.

The squad’s 100 members had planned to spend at least four hours fundraising that weekend before they were ordered to stop. By then they had raised $3,100, about $10,000 short of their usual total. They say the lack of money may impair public safety.

“We'll have to figure out how in our current budget cycle we're going to make those cuts,” Rice said.

Members of the rescue squad say they were not stopping cars in the street to solicit donations, but the police department disputes that claim.

“They were in fact violating the city ordinance. They were advised that they needed to cease that activity,” said Natatia Bledsoe, spokeswoman of the Fredericksburg police department.

The police department also says that they did not ask the squad to cease all fundraising operations, just to stop soliciting in the street.

“We support their fundraising efforts, but this particular fundraising activity is clearly in violation of the city ordinance,” Bledsoe said.

Police say they enforce the laws for everyone, adding that they didn’t ticket the squad and instead just asked them to stop their activities.