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Collection Tops $11,000 Mark
Over the course of two days, more than $11,000 was donated - all by motorists passing through the main intersection in Escalon.

Firefighters manned the Highway 120-McHenry Avenue-Escalon-Bellota Road corridor throughout the day both Saturday and Sunday, armed with their turnout boots to collect money for the Firefighters Burn Institute. Picture-perfect weather and a good flow of traffic added to the success of the venture.

"We had $11,387 not counting change," said Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Rick Mello on Monday. "We had 12 firefighters out there on Saturday, seven on Sunday."

Mello classified the collection as a good one, with the total still climbing as the loose coins were counted. Once the final total is known, the money will be deposited and the fire department will send off a check to the Sacramento-based institute.

"It's $11,000 more than they would have had had we not done this," Mello said.

Funding helps families in need of assistance with burn victims and also help with programs and services, including a summer camp for young burn survivors.

Among the crew working at the intersection on Saturday were new reserve firefighters Chris Roberts and Daniel Shigio, both from Stockton and graduates of the Modesto Fire Academy. New volunteer Ben Carnes was also collecting money in his turnout boot, and he has also completed his training with the Modesto Fire Academy.

Reserve Thomas Hallam has also joined the Escalon department and Bryan Thompson, who went through the Ripon Fire Academy, is another new volunteer.

Most of the department's paid staff, reserves and volunteers all spent some time with the collection effort over the weekend. Donors were given an informational flyer about the Firefighters Burn Institute when they donated and then placed it on their dashboard to indicate they had already given, in case they drove back through the intersection again.

The goal of the Firefighters Burn Institute, according to the flyer, is "firefighters dedicated to improving burn care and helping burn survivors in their recovery."