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Votes

Filling the Boot and More

Area charities, businesses pitch in for hurricane relief.

Each year during Labor Day weekend, Fairfax County Fire Fighters stand in intersections and in store fronts to "fill the boot" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Last year, Fairfax County Fire Fighters, in association with IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) raised $342,025.89 for MDA. This year, part of the boot will benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Fifty percent of the total amount exceeding last year's total will be donated to the IAFF disaster relief fund, according to Joel Kobersteen, communications director for the fire fighters union.

Local fire fighters raised a record $581,058.21, which means that the relief fund will receive $119,516.11. MDA also hosted a telethon that was broadcast nationwide. It began on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. and ended at Monday, Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m.

"MDA agreed to donate $1 million of the [telethon] proceeds to hurricane relief," said Stacy Williams, district director of MDA for the Washington, D.C. area. Williams said the funds would be given to the Salvation Army for them to use for disaster relief.

Local fire fighters aren't the only ones collecting for Katrina victims. Nail Taxi in Springfield named its effort Loveworks, and is collecting items for babies and small children, such as diapers, formula, baby wipes and baby food. Donations will be sent to Houston where the items will be distributed to the Red Cross, the Astrodome and local relief efforts and individuals who have taken victims into their homes, wrote Cinnamon Bowser, president of Nail Taxi.

To donate, visit www.nailtaxi.com and download a donation form, then send items to Loveworks, 6205 Sage Drive, Alexandria, VA 22310, or leave items outside the garage door. Shipments are sent every Wednesday and Saturday to Houston. E-mail loveworks@nailtaxi.com with questions or for more information.

Several collection points for donations will be available during the Burke Fall Festival, Sept. 10-11, at Burke Centre, 6060 Burke Centre Parkway. Festival-goers can drop their monetary donations in one of the appropriate collection buckets, said Nancy Sherman, administrative assistant at Burke Centre. All donations will be sent to the American Red Cross.

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is encouraging local businesses who are hiring to post employment opportunities on www.CraigsList.org and give special consideration to hurricane victims, according to Nancy-Jo Manney of the Springfield chamber. The chamber advised people to donate directly to the Red Cross. Links are provided at the chamber's Web site, www.springfieldchamber.org, to the Red Cross, Craigs List, and the Center for Corporate Citizenship, where information is posted to help citizens determine the best way to help in the wake of a disaster.

ECHO (Ecumenical Neighbors Helping Others) asks local citizens to donate money to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and FEMA, as the money can be better distributed and spent in the local economy, said Pat Gauthier, director of ECHO.

UCM (United Community Ministries) is helping local families who were displaced due to Katrina and need things like school supplies and clothes, said Tracy Davis of UCM. UCM also advises people to give money to the Red Cross, because it's the surest way to help Katrina victims quickly.