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'Boot Drive' bolsters 2 causes

WINDER -- Barrow County firefighters beat pavement this week in support of two noble causes.

Firefighters, boots in hand, posted themselves at intersections throughout Barrow for a three-day boot drive that kicked off Thursday.

Beneficiaries of that collected money will be the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Barrow County Children After the Fire, officials said.

"The citizens have always come out in force to help us in our efforts to help others," said Barrow County Emergency Services Lt. Ernest Weant, the drive's coordinator.

Unlike the "Give Burns the Boot" campaign put on by firefighters earlier this year, donated money will directly affect an untold number of Barrow residents, Weant said. The contributions "will go a long way," he said.

The local program, Children After the Fire, assists kids injured in fires or who have lost loved ones after a traumatic event. Children are offered free, traumatic stress counseling through police and fire agencies throughout Barrow.

As for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, it relies heavily on contributions from private donors in its quest to cure ALS, muscular dystrophy and related diseases, Weant said.

"Both of these organizations help the children of Barrow County," he said.

Proceeds from the earlier boot drive were channeled to the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation. Ten percent of that funding is earmarked to come back to Barrow County.

The Foundation helps buoy several burn-related programs throughout Georgia, including the Chesney Fallen Firefighters Memorial Grant Program, named in honor of a Gwinnett firefighter killed in the line of duty.