Fill the Boot Drive kicks off

Published 9:07 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue is gearing up to start its annual Fill the Boot Drive, and all the proceeds will go towards the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The event kicks off Friday.

This is the 64th year that the department has participated in the event, and over the last 19 years, the department has raised $640,000.

On six days this month — May 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 — where firefighters will be at various locations throughout Suffolk with their boots to raise funds.

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“We will be out collecting, and we encourage all citizens and visitors to give us their spare change,” Fire Chief Cedric Scott said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Suffolk is the first jurisdiction in Virginia to begin its fundraising efforts. Local firefighters will be at 13 different businesses from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the appointed days to raise funds from passerby.

The firefighters will be at all three Food Lion locations and both Walmart locations as well as Kroger, 10147 University Blvd.; both Chick-Fil-A locations, 1018 N. Main St. and 6212 College Drive; Duck Thru, 6273 Holland Road; two Dollar General locations, 6513 Holland Road and 5900 Godwin Blvd.; and J and L, 6500 Whaleyville Blvd.

Residents will also have a chance to donate at Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s TGIF Summer Concert Series. The series begins in June and stretches into August.

The newest feature for donations has been rolled out, and it will allow people to donate when they don’t have cash on them.

Citizens can now “Text to Donate” by texting BOOT50 to 71777 to make a secure online donation to the campaign. The feature will run for the entirety of the campaign.

For the first year, the local MDA Region will have a teenage ambassador. Emily Wheeler was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease at the age of 15. CMT causes muscle weakness and atrophy.

“The money donated to Fill the Boot is why she can still finish school,” said Pam King of the Suffolk Local 2801 Professional Firefighters during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Money from the fundraiser not only funds research but also helps send more than 70 local kids to an MDA summer camp in Wakefield.

“The dedication of these firefighters to MDA’s mission is unwavering, spending countless hours both with Fill the Boot and MDA Summer Camp to care for the kids and adults in Suffolk. We know that their devotion to our families will make this year’s drive a success,” fundraising coordinator Darcy Warren said in a press release.