As Columbia County residents shop for the supplies of a Labor Day barbecue, pool party or lake trip, firefighters will spend the holiday standing outside area businesses hoping to fill their boots with donations.
Three-year-old Kaylen Gay, of Evans, drops a dollar into a boot held by Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue firefighter Mark Smith outside the Evans Wal-Mart. Firefighters are collecting funds for the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association's Labor Day Telethon outside area businesses and at fire headquarters.
Photo by Barry Paschal
Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue started its annual Fill-the-Boot campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association last weekend and will greet customers outside Wal-Mart, Kroger and other retailers again this weekend and on Labor Day.
"Our goal this year, we want to go over $30,000 if possible," Martinez-Columbia Chief Doug Cooper said.
Last year, the department raised $25,434, more than $8,000 above their goal, placing the department as the fourth-largest fundraiser statewide.
"That's got a lot to do with the people of Columbia County. They are very generous," Cooper said.
Instead of collecting funds only on Labor Day weekend, Cooper said, firefighters were out collecting this past weekend as well, and donations are being accepted at the department's headquarters station at 3910 Desoto Drive.
"Last year, we were fourth in the state of Georgia for MDA," Cooper said. "This year, we will make it third."
Firefighters nationwide collected and donated $20.3 million through the International Association of Firefighters, making the association the Muscular Dystrophy Association's largest national sponsor.
Cooper said his department has participated in the Fill-the-Boot drive for more than 30 years and plans to continue doing so.
All funds raised during the campaign stay in the area and are used to provide medical services to the Medical College of Georgia's MDA Clinic to assist families in purchasing wheelchairs and leg braces and to help fund a monthly support group at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital.
A weeklong summer camp for children also is funded.
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