CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Members of the Incarnate Word Knights of Columbus Council 9981 were hoping the city of Chesterfield would grant a waiver allowing the charitable organization to conduct a fundraising event that’s been a tradition.

In October, members don yellow vests for three days and hand out Tootsie Rolls in exchange for donations from drivers stopped at intersections. The donations support organizations that help individuals with developmental disabilities.

The fundraising effort ran into a hurdle last year after Chesterfield passed an ordinance aimed in part at addressing aggressive panhandling. Several other communities have passed similar ordinances over safety concerns.

For the second year in a row, Council 9981 was denied a request to solicit at several Chesterfield intersections. A spokesperson for the city of Chesterfield said legal advice given to the city stated that if an expectation was made for one organization, then exceptions would be required for others.

“They’re impacting organizations that help our community,” said Jim Ressler, Incarnate Word Knights of Columbus Council 9981 trustee.

He said prior to the ordinance, three-day collections from street corners in Chesterfield yielded an average of $12,500 per year. The money benefits five St. Louis and Missouri-based organizations serving those with developmental disabilities resulting from injuries, Down Syndrome, autism, and ADHD.

Ressler said the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center at Cardinal Glennon Hospital is the major recipient, receiving 50% of statewide donations to the annual drive.

He and other members of the Incarnate Word Knights of Columbus Council 9981 are turning to other methods, such as asking businesses to display flyers offering a Tootsie Roll with an invitation to donate.

Some members have been moved by the amount of generosity they’ve seen from those willing to donate at an intersection.

“It’s a humbling experience,” said Gary Grace, Incarnate Word Knights of Columbus Council 9981 member.

Fellow member Jim Normile said, “People will just have bags of coins in their car, and they’ll take them out and put them in the bucket.”

Ressler hopes the city can find a compromise in the future that would allow the charitable organization to obtain a permit to solicit street donations in Chesterfield.

Chesterfield Ordinance 3185 by KevinSeanHeld on Scribd