By Johnny Jackson
Firefighters were out in force Friday, filling their work boots with donations for two charitable causes.
Braving the summer elements that seemed to come at him in rounds of cold rain and blistering sunshine, Henry County Fire Lt. Rufus Adams, an 18-year veteran firefighter, gave passers-by a friendly grin as he collected their contributions for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
"We do this about twice a year," Adams said. "We enjoy doing this - helping out the children."
Several firefighters from the Henry County Fire Department stood at interstate offramps throughout the county on Friday, in an effort to raise money for the two charities.
The burn foundation is an organization which seeks to raise awareness about preventing burn injuries, according Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett, who is chairing the department's fund-raising effort.
Puckett said the foundation supports medical facilities that care for burn victims, and assists burn survivors in their recovery. She said the group also provides funding to fire-safety and burn-prevention programs at local fire departments.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association, Puckett added, aids local children and adults affected by neuromuscular diseases, and provides wheelchairs, leg braces, support groups, and a summer camp for youth.
"We recognize that we are in a time that is difficult for people to give and we truly understand," Puckett said. "Our goal for this drive is to help support the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association in their work with burn survivors and with those suffering from neuromuscular disease."
She said that some of the money raised by the Henry County Fire Department would also go to Camp Oo-U-La, the state's only camp held exclusively for burn-injured children.
Puckett urged residents, if they see a firefighter holding a boot, to consider giving no matter how big or small the donation.
"Please give generously when a firefighter asks for your support," she said.
Adams, the lieutenant, joined fellow firefighter, Joseph Maddox, in collecting funds on the I-75 offramp at Jonesboro Road in McDonough. There, they found many out-of-town residents and several native Henry Countians willing to donate.
Hinesville, Ga., resident Angela Powell said she felt a sense of obligation to donate to the charities.
"I just saw them out here with a boot, and I wanted to do my part," Powell said. "I didn't think twice about it."
Passer-by Eric Williams, who owns the McDonough cold treats company, Snow Balling, said he felt compelled to do something more than donate. Williams gave the two firefighters, Adams and Maddox, snow cones.
"It's just out of the grace of God that I did it," Williams said. "I wanted to help out."