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Caring soles: Covington firefighters gear up to Give Burns the Boot

Staff Photos: Erin Evans. Firefighter Brad Smith readies the sign in front of the Covington Fire Department's Station 1 on Pace Street to alert residents that the 22nd Give Burns the Boot drive will be held three Saturdays in May.

Staff Photos: Erin Evans. Firefighter Brad Smith readies the sign in front of the Covington Fire Department's Station 1 on Pace Street to alert residents that the 22nd Give Burns the Boot drive will be held three Saturdays in May.

COVINGTON -- Covington firefighters will be filling up those boots again on three Saturdays in May with donations for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.

Covington Fire Department firefighters will be at Kroger on U.S. Highway 278 and Super Walmart on Industrial Boulevard May 6, 13 and 20 to give residents an opportunity to donate to the 22nd annual Give Burns the Boot drive.

The CFD is one of more than 100 fire departments statewide joining forces to support the Burn Foundation. The foundation's mission is to partner with the local fire services and the burn care community to provide fire safety and prevention education, support medical facilities and assist burn survivors in their recovery.

Chairing this year's drive for CFD is Engineer Jody Roberson.

"Fire and burn injuries can strike anyone at anytime," Roberson warned. "The Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation is working to help prevent fire-related injuries and deaths through education. In addition, the Foundation supports the burn centers in Georgia to allow them to offer the best possible treatment for the patients."

A portion of the total funds raised is returned to the local fire department to support education and prevention efforts in the Covington community.

"The Burn Foundation is grateful to all of the citizens and firefighters that support this campaign. Our work would not be possible without them," said Executive Director Dennis Gardin.

In recognition of the hard work the firefighters do on behalf of the Burn Foundation, an incentive program has been instituted. Ten percent of each department's total dollar amount raised is returned to the department for fire safety and burn education efforts.

"By supporting the Boot Drive, the public is also supporting their local fire department and their own community," Gardin said.

One of the biggest efforts Boot Drive funds makes possible is Camp Oo-U-La, Georgia's only camp held exclusively for burn-injured children. Last year 92 children with burn injuries attended the camp, paid for entirely by the Burn Foundation. This effort allows the campers one week a year in which they can live without society's cruel comments and stares at their scars and just be kids.

Other programs include the Chesney Fallen Firefighters Memorial Grant Program, named in memory of the Gwinnett County firefighter who died in the line of duty, which provides funding for fire safety/burn prevention education and work with both the Grady Memorial Hospital's Burn Center in Atlanta and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.

"Without the support of our citizens each year, the Boot Drive would not be a success. The Covington Fire Department is proud to take part in the drive, and we ask that you continue your support and give as much as you can," Roberson said. "Please give generously when a firefighter asks for your support."

The Burn Foundation was founded in 1982 by a group of DeKalb County firefighters. Over the last 28 years, the foundation has grown to incorporate the entire state and expanded its work to include all Georgians. In 1990, the Give Burns the Boot campaign was started to support the foundation's efforts. Since that time, firefighters have continued their support by collecting more than $11 million.

For more information, go to www.gfbf.org.