Cal Fire firefighters and paramedics with the Ramona Fire Department will take to the streets Thursday morning for the annual Barona Firefighter Boot Drive, to be held throughout San Diego County.
What began 10 years ago as a grassroots effort backed by the fire service, the Boot Drive has become a hallmark fundraiser for the Burn Institute, raising more than $215,000 countywide for the organization in 2008.
Each year, hundreds of uniformed firefighters from fire departments all over San Diego County hop aboard their engines to meet at intersections within their communities to collect donations in their boots during the morning and evening commutes. And each year, passing motorists help to fill those boots with their spare change—ones, fives, twenties—even $100 bills.
Sponsored by Barona and backed by the San Diego–Imperial County Fire Fighters Advisory Council to the Burn Institute and the San Diego County Fire Chiefs’ Association, the event is the agency’s largest one-day fundraiser, illustrating the partnership between the Burn Institute and the fire service.
Joining the Ramona Fire Department on April 16 will be officers from the sheriff’s Ramona Substation and the Intermountain Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Cal Fire Capt. Bob Bowden with the Ramona Fire Department said they will be out with their boots from 6:30 to 9 a.m. at Gunn Stage and San Vicente roads, 10th and Main streets, and Dye Road and Highway 67. Persons wanting to donate in the evening may stop at any of the Ramona fire stations or the Intermountain station.
Last year, $13,000 was collected in Ramona, and nearly $12,000 was donated during the 2007 Boot Drive, said Bowden.
“The Boot Drive has become one of the institute’s most successful events,” said James Floros, Burn Institute executive director/CEO, adding that the past success can be attributed to the energy and support from local fire service. “It really makes me proud to see that synergy between various agencies and ourselves. The fire service really is the backbone of this organization. As a team we can do great things for the community.”
Proceeds benefit Burn Institute fire and burn prevention education programs and burn survivor support programs such as Camp Beyond The Scars for burn-injured children. All of the money raised through the Boot Drive stays in San Diego County.
“Barona is honored to be the first ever sponsor of this extremely worthwhile fundraising event,” said Chief Randy Sandoval of the Barona Fire Department. “Our fire department on the Barona Indian Reservation works in cooperation with fire departments throughout the county. We have seen first hand the good works of the Burn Institute and want to do our share to provide additional resources to help burn survivors through the recovery process.”
Last year, more than 30 departments participated in the fundraiser, the agency’s best ever. As always, the top fire department in each region will win the agency’s highly-coveted bronze boot trophy.