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Boot drive fund-raiser begins today

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The Henry County Fire Department will participate in the 21st Annual Give Burns the Boot drive today through Saturday. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.

Henry County Fire Department Interim Chief Bill Lacy said the men and women of his agency strongly support the foundation, and its mission.

"The Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation assists in providing burn care for citizens throughout the state," he said. "As part of that outreach, they direct some of the funds that are gathered through this drive back to local communities in the form of fire-safety education materials and programs."

Venessa Walker, the executive administrator of the burn foundation, said the Henry County Fire Department has raised more than $672,000 for the organization since becoming involved in the boot drive in 1991.

"They've been a great supporter," Walker said. "The boot drive is our largest source of revenue. They've allowed us to serve Henry County, and communities in Georgia, through their generosity of time and support."

The funds raised will be used to educate the public regarding burn awareness and prevention, to support medical facilities and to assist burn survivors, according to Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett.

A portion of the funds raised by the Henry County department during the drive will also go toward Camp Oo-U-La, a camp for burn-injured children. The camp, according to Puckett, celebrated its 17th year in operation in 2009 with more than 80 campers.

"The campers experience an entire week where they get to feel like kids again, regardless of their physical features," Puckett said. "The cost for both the campers and volunteers is covered entirely by the foundation."

The burn foundation, she continued, works with the burn center at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, providing grants to both facilities annually.

"The funding helps these facilities acquire equipment and send personnel to conferences on burn-care treatment and rehabilitation," Puckett said.