Not only do the members of the West Centreville Fire Station 38 save lives with their regular duties, they also do it by raising money for charity.
Over Labor Day weekend, they helped Fairfax County Firefighter Local 2068 raise a record-breaking $278,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). This amount was some $75,000 more than last year's total.
On top of that, Station 38 collected $25,688 to become the top fund-raising station in the county. And its 12-member, C-shift crew raised $9,475 of that total.
"The C-shift crew won the award for raising the most money of any shift in the county," said C-shift commander, Capt. Paul Beardmore. "And with shifts A and B added in, Station 38 raised more money than any station in the county. It's definitely the most money this station ever raised."
It's part of an effort done each year in conjunction with the International Association of Firefighters during the nationwide, "Fill the Boot" campaign to benefit MDA. Firefighters station themselves at busy intersections and ask passing pedestrians and motorists to drop their spare change and dollars into special, firefighters' boots for the charity.
"As a result, firefighters give help to local families living with neuromuscular disease," said Christine Cortese, MDA program coordinator for the Greater Washington, D.C., area. "More importantly, they give hope for a brighter future for a cure through MDA-funded research."
Station 38's fund-raising was done Friday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 2. B shift worked Friday; A shift, Sunday; and C shift, Saturday and Monday. "We do it every Labor Day for the kids and for the community," said Beardmore. "Everyone held a boot at several intersections in Centreville."
The firefighters stood at Route 29 and Stone Road, Route 29 and Machen Road, and Route 28 and I-66. "And when it rained, we did it under cover at the shopping centers," said Beardmore. They also put up signs saying, "Fill the Boot," and telling why they were collecting money.
"It's something we do as a community service to raise money for kids less fortunate," said Beardmore. "And we appreciate the public's response — and so do the kids with muscular dystrophy — because people are so generous to us every year."
He believes that "the guys on C shift were determined to break the previous [fund-raising] records. They were standing out on the roads at least 12 hours each day — in between [their regular work] shifts."
Overall, said Beardmore, "They did an outstanding job — over and above the call of duty — and it was reflected in the amount that we raised. We did it for a good cause, and the citizens that donated and put money in the boots will know that their money counted for something."
Nationally, the 2002 "Fill the Boot" campaign raised a record-breaking $17 million for MDA. The efforts of Fairfax County Local 2068 were led by Local President Mike Mohler and MDA coordinator Rick Roatch. This organization's $75,000 increase over its last year's total also distinguished it as the second-highest fund-raising Local in the U.S.
"MDA cannot begin to thank these amazing men and women for all their hard work and devotion," said Cortese. "The impact that this year's campaign will have on our services, local research efforts and our families is immeasurable. We are eternally grateful to these brave heroes."