By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, July 13, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photos by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON -- Firefighter Jason Newman was, in his own words, "psyched."
The reason for his enthusiasm? A motorist had just dropped a $100 bill into the tall rubber fire boot Newman held while standing in the center of Brown Avenue, just outside the beach fire station.
Newman had joined his fellow professionals from Local 2664 to take part in a drive to collect donations for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Burn Foundation. As motorists traveled down both Brown and Ashworth Avenues, they were invited to toss into the boot whatever they felt led to give, be it dimes or dollars.
The drive was conducted on Sunday, July 8, and is an event that Hampton firefighters have taken part in since it was begun by Mark Ouellette 25 years ago, according to Local 2664 Vice President, Jim Correll.
Like the Muscular Dystrophy boot drive the town's fire department holds every year, this "volunteer toll booth" is also for a great cause.
"All money raised goes toward treatment and research for burn victims," said Correll, adding that additional funding is designated to go to the IAFF's camp program developed especially for kids who are burn survivors.
Donations were collected on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., with groups of three volunteers serving two-hour shifts (two holding the boots and one managing the intake).
"The guys on the committee are here all day," explained Correll. The volunteer staff includes active fire department personnel, and "some of our retirees come back to help," he adds, listing Rusty Bridle and Bruce Philbrick among them.
Years ago, the boot drive was conducted on Ocean Boulevard near 5th Street, but according to Correll NH regulations regarding volunteer fundraising on state routes made it necessary to bring the drive "closer to home" on the roads that intersect near the station.
Not a problem.
"It's all town roads," said Correll. "We certainly get enough traffic!" Motorists approaching the collection sites are notified well in advance by signs and orange traffic cones, he added, and as far as safety matters are concerned, there has "never been a problem."
While "weather plays a huge factor" with the amount of "boot bucks" that is raised annually, Correll notes that the public's generosity has brought in "around $3000" annually in past years, though "I don't remember getting a $100 bill" until now.
This year's boot drive was held in conjunction with Local 2664's recent Chowdah Challenge, which brought in approximately $1200 for the IAFF Burn Foundation.
By early accounts, motorists had already dropped $500 into the boots just after the first two hours of the drive, and had donated about "$1900 plus change" (including that $100 bill) by 1 p.m.
When all was said and done, Newman estimated (as of press time) that approximately $3500 had been dropped into the boots — and that was before the loose change had been counted.
It's certainly something that any dedicated firefighter can be psyched about.
"It's awesome," said Newman.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, IAFF represents more than 280,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics, with more than 3,100 affiliates and their members protecting communities in every state in the United States, as well as in Canada.
According to their Web site, the IAFF Burn Foundation is "dedicated to burn prevention and education, burn research and improving the quality of life for burn survivors. Created in 1982, the Burn Foundation is now the largest non-governmental source for burn research grants and the sponsor of the annual IAFF National Children's Burn Camp, held each fall in Washington, DC."
This camp "was developed to give young burn survivors the opportunity to explore Washington, DC and share their experiences with other teens who have fought back courageously and successfully from burn injuries." To find out more, visit the IAFF Web site at http://iaff.org.