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Continue filling the boots

Last weekend and the next two weekends, firefighters throughout Suffolk have and will fan out to a number of restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and retail locations holding their boots in their hands.

It may look confusing and just a bit silly if you don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s a good cause in which Suffolk firefighters have been participating for decades.

The Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue and the local firefighters’ union, Local 2801 Professional Firefighters, have been doing this annual fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for more than 20 years now. The Muscular Dystrophy Association exists to help children and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases live longer, more fulfilling lives, to help advocate for research and treatment for these diseases, and to bring attention to the importance of greater knowledge surrounding these diseases.

But the firefighters certainly haven’t participated in Fill the Boot alone — the community has helped, too, if the total raised is any indication. In the past 20 years, Suffolk citizens have put more than $702,735 in the boot.

That’s an amazing total, and everyone here — whether you’ve been giving for 20 years or you just dropped in your first dime last weekend — has played a role.

Contributions especially help children with muscular dystrophy and related diseases be able to attend summer camp especially for them, doing activities they may not otherwise be able to do and meeting other children just like them. Contributions also help fund groundbreaking research, support groups and care centers, including one at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

The camp, and many other programs and services of the MDA, are completely free to the affected families. That’s thanks to the support of everybody who pulls out their pocket change or a couple of bills and drops them in the boot when they see the firefighters around town.

We encourage everyone to donate while you’re going about your errands these next couple of weeks — or maybe you can even make a special trip. The firefighters will be at both Walmart stores in town, both Chick-fil-As, the Food Lions on Portsmouth Boulevard, Holland Road, Godwin Boulevard and Bridge Road, the Kroger in North Suffolk, the Dollar General stores on Holland Road and Godwin Boulevard, the Bojangles’ on Godwin Boulevard, the J&L Food Mart in Whaleyville, the Duck-Thru on Holland Road and the 7-Eleven on Centerbrooke Lane.