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Boot Drive For Burns Tops $28,000
It never ceases to amaze ... the four-day holiday weekend Fill the Boot drive in Farmington raised close to $30,000 this year.

"Every year I think it's going to be tough," admitted Farmington Fire Chief Conni Bailey. "The economy is down but people just give, we get repeat people every year."

The four-day weekend for the Presidents' Day holiday happens to be a busy one, as people head out from the Bay Area to enjoy a late winter-early spring weekend in the Sierras. For many, that route takes them along Highway 4 and that takes them right to the boot drive, with the Farmington firefighters manning the intersection of Highway 4 and Escalon-Bellota Road. The location is perfect, Bailey said, just outside the firehouse and in a high traffic area.

Volunteers, which also included some community residents including the Escalon postmaster and a couple of retired firefighters, in addition to those on the Farmington Fire Department members list, were greeted by picture perfect weather for the long haul, and drivers-turned-donors seemed to be extremely generous.

"Look at these," Bailey said during a Monday afternoon money counting session, holding up two $100 bills. "Who carries these?"

Whoever did dropped them in a turnout boot, with firefighters taking bills and coins offered by motorists.

The money raised goes to the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento for programs and services, research and treatment for burn victims. Bailey said the goal is "always to reach $20,000" so they can stay in the 20 Grand Club of the institute. This year, that happened by Sunday.

Though her total is unofficial until all the money is counted by the bank, Bailey reported a four-day total of $28,149.50.

"Every single year, they surprise and amaze us," she said of the donors. "People have been nice and very generous."

She also praised her volunteers, fire department and community wise, that put in the time and effort.

The Friday collection topped out at over $7,200 with an additional $7,400-plus on Saturday. With close to $6,000 donated on Sunday, the total had reached $20,658.50 by the end of that day. Monday, when people head home from the holiday, is usually the busiest and that day brought in more than $7,000 as well.