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Barrow department joins 100 others in Boot Drive

WINDER -- Be on the lookout for boots.

That's the message officials with Barrow County Emergency Services are trying to relay as the department joins more than 100 others across Georgia for the 23rd annual "Give Burns the Boot" drive, which kicked off Friday.

The drive takes place on Fridays until June 22 and, as always, will benefit the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.

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 Burn Foundation.

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

"The camp ... allows the campers one week a year in which they can live without society's cruel comments and stares and just be kids," said department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin.

Across Barrow County, firefighters will be soliciting donations, as usual, with boots in hand.

"We ask that you continue your support and give as much as you can," said Lt. Ernest Weant, Barrow County Emergency Services Boot Drive Coordinator.

That sentiment was echoed at the state level.

"The (foundation) is grateful to all of the citizens and firefighters that support this campaign," executive director Dennis Gardin said in a release. "Our work would not be possible without them."