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Fill the Boot Kicks Off Holiday Weekend Events

Oakton fire station participates in initiative benefiting Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Families, firefighters and other local supporters joined together Thursday to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the kickoff event of this year’s Fill the Boot Campaign.

The kickoff, held at Fairfax County Fire Station 5 in Alexandria, is part of the Labor Day weekend events organized by the Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics in conjunction with the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department, the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications, Greater Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Subway Restaurants.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2068 has been raising money during the weekend campaign for 20 years. Seven of those 20 years, Local 2068 has been in the top three in the nation, competing with Los Angeles and Houston.

Members of Local 2068 collected more than $435,000 for Greater Washington MDA during last year's Labor Day Weekend campaign. This year, their goal is to raise $475,000 that will help with medical care and summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy.

Last year, Oakton Station 34, at 10511 Rosehaven Street, raised $6,404.87, a decrease of more than $1,000 from 2011 but still up by about $2,000 from 2010's collection.

"Fill the Boot is our largest event. Our budget for Washington MDA is $1.8 million each year, and about $500,000 of it is raised by Fairfax County," said Nadine Pottinga, executive director of Greater Washington MDA.

The firefighters do everything they can during the four-day campaign to raise as much money as possible, including starting a bit of competition.

"The station goal is to always raise as much as possible for the kids," said Smith Banks, a hazardous materials technician with Station No. 40. "It’s always a good thing, and there’s competition between stations and between different shifts."

Captain Fred Brandell of No. 5 agreed with Smith, saying, "We just try to do the best for the kids."

Smith said the event is a great opportunity to talk to people and help a cause at the same time.

For the next four days, firefighters will be stationed at different intersections throughout Fairfax County, raising money for Greater Washington MDA.

"They're a part of our family," Pottinga said. "So we ask our citizens to look out for them and help them fill their boots."

abigail magnani September 02, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Aboslutely at great cause!! However, we were at the intersection of West Ox Rd. andFair Lakes Parkway today. We were going to turn Left on W. Ox; the left turn lanes were red. A nice FF was carrying the boot; as we put in our cash, the light turned; car were unaware of anyone on the median line, zoomed ahead, and two FF's had to jump out of the way. Not sure that this is the most safe way to go about this.
Joel Kobersteen September 02, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Thank you very much for taking the time to write, Abigail. As the coordinator of the Fairfax Co Fill the Boot Campaign, my mission is to have a safe campaign that has as little impact on traffic flow. As I tell the firefighters and my committee every year, "I do not care if someone is waving a $100 dollar bill out of their window, if it is not safe to receive the donation, wave them on." I am sending a message to everyone reminding them remain on our normal high level of awareness of traffic flow around them and to get to the safety of the median or sidewalk when the light turns green. Fairfax Co Firefighters are trained to a very high level to operate in and around NoVa traffic. Given that our personnel are Filling the Boot at controlled intersections and only when the light is green, this is a much safer situation than our typical emergency responses on the uncontrolled interstates and normal roadways of Fairfax Co. After two days of collecting, Fairfax Co Firefighters have collected $318,220! Our third shift, A-shift, is collecting today and C-shift collects again tomorrow. A-shift is looking to outdo B and C-shifts to be the highest collecting shift in Fairfax Co! A huge "Thank You" goes out to the citizens and visitors for helping Fairfax Co FFs help Greater Washington MDA and the families in the Washington, D.C. area that they assist on a daily basis. Also thanks for keeping Fairfax Co FFs in the top 3 in the US for amount collected!
Robert F. Dorr September 03, 2012 at 11:42 AM
I wonder if Joel and others understand how intimidating it can be when you're approached by an official wearing work uniform and an official-looking high visibility vest. Is this a firefighter using his public office to make me feel so intimidated that I'll feel pressured to donate, or a member of the SWAT team getting ready to rub me out? Contrary to Joel's assertion, this irritating and intimidating event is not being carried out safely. I've watched motorists come close to hitting one of these firefighters. I can reinforce Abigail's assertion that you don't want to be at West Ox and Fair Lakes Parkway when they're out browbeating us. I'll never forget the ominous and threatening look on the face of the firefighter carrying that ridiculous boot when he realized that I wasn't going to open my window, stop at a green light, or speak to him. For the exceedingly trivial amounts collected this way, this program is undermining civil servants who, for the most part, enjoy the trust and confidence of Fairfax County residents. This is a bad idea and it needs to be killed.

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