After Boot Drive, firefighters tip cap to public

WINDER -- For three Fridays in June, Barrow County Emergency Services firefighters took their boots to the street. But their boots were in their hands.

The efforts, an annual tradition, paid off.

The department raised more than $16,000 this year for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation's 23rd annual "Give Burns the Boot" campaign. More than 100 Georgia departments took part.

"Every year our firefighters participate in this event to help the foundation in their efforts," said Lt. Ernest Weant, Boot Drive Coordinator, "and every year we're amazed at the generosity of the citizens and businesses."

The Burn Foundation is a nonprofit organization that partners with the fire service and burn care community to provide fire safety and prevention education, support medical facilities and assist burn survivors in their recovery.

Among the activities made possible by Boot Drive proceeds is "Camp Oo-U-La," Georgia's only camp held exclusively for burn-injured children. A total of 94 children attended the camp at Fort Yargo State Park in 2011. Costs are covered by the foundation.

Camp Oo-U-La, which borrows its name from an Indian word for cool running water, celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

Barrow authorities extended a special thanks to employees at two local bank branches, who counted more than $3,000 in change.

"These ladies made my job much easier," Weant said.