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Firefighters 'Fill the Boot'

As of Sunday, firefighters had collected more than $470,000 from area motorists.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department firefighters and rescue workers established a new philanthropic record in the annual Labor Day weekend "Fill the Boot" campaign to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, approximately half of those contributions were destined to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We blew apart the record and its still climbing. As of Sunday we collected more than $470,000 countywide," said Master Technician Jeff Klopp of Penn Daw Station, as he passed the firefighter's boot to motorists stopped for the traffic signal at the intersection of Beacon Hill Road and Richmond Highway.

"One individual gave me $400," Klopp said. "He pulled out a whole wad of bills, pealed them off and stuffed them in the boot. That sure made my day."

Monday morning he was joined at the intersection by Technician John McGee and Lt. Thomas Flint, also from the Penn Daw station.

"People have been very generous and responsive this year," McGee said. "They are normally good. But, this year they seem to be even more giving."

Fairfax County firefighters are visible at many intersections throughout the county over the Labor Day weekend each year collecting funds for Jerry's Kids. Their efforts are coordinated with the MDA telethon undertaken each year by actor/comedian Jerry Lewis.

County firefighters and paramedics, in conjunction with Local 2068 of the International Association of Firefighters, donate their time to support research seeking a cure for this debilitating disease. Last year their efforts produced donations of $342,000.

Throughout the Greater Washington metropolitan area, Fairfax County firefighters and paramedics regularly hold the title as MDA's largest contributor, according to annual statistics. Their efforts, spanning 51 years, have accounted for contributions exceeding $200 million.