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Clayton firefighters 'Give Burns the Boot'

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County Firefighter Johnathan Moore, 26, is participating in the "Give Burns the Boot" fund-raising drive for the first time this week. The former U.S. Marine, a Covington resident, has been a firefighter for six months.

"It's awesome having these charities that you're collecting for," said Moore. "It's great. I love being out here trying to help other people," he said.

Clayton County firefighters collected money Thursday and Friday at intersections across the county to benefit the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation. The firefighters will collect donations again today, according to Clayton County Battalion Chief Landry Merkison.

The foundation uses the funds to benefit children who are burn victims, and to assist the American Red Cross, Merkison said.

"The Burn Foundation runs a camp every year for burned kids, that gets them around other children who have been burned, and teaches them how to cope with their injury, and get back into their basic routine," said Merkison.

But the money raised "doesn't all go to the camp. Some of it goes to burn research and some of the burn centers," he said.

Merkison said the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation also distributes funds to the American Red Cross. "When fire displaces families, the Red Cross gets them back on their feet," he said.

Merkison said Clayton County firefighters will hit the streets again June 11, 12, and 13, asking motorists to fill their boots with donations.

"With the economy down, a lot of agencies are suffering. Our boot drive is normally three days. This year, it's six days," Merkison said. "We're asking our citizens to dig deep wherever they can, and help out with the causes."

Sgt. Leroy Travis, 52, of Riverdale, who has been a Clayton County firefighter for 24 years, said he has participated in "Give Burns the Boot" for more than a decade. He said in addition to helping the burn centers, it's rewarding to raise funds for the American Red Cross.

"The Red Cross helps out a lot. When we have major fires, they will bring food to the firefighters if we're on the scene for a long time," he said.

"When we have people burned out, they will find rooms or a place for them to stay, one or two nights, until they can get back on their feet," Travis said. "So it's a good cause."