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Two-Day Fill The Boot Effort Raises Over $23K
A newcomer to the event but right at ease posing for the camera and waving to the passing traffic, Sparky the fire dog was a welcome sight during the weekend Fill The Boot campaign at the main Escalon-Bellota, Highway 120, McHenry Avenue intersection in Escalon. The two-day effort raised more than $23,000 for the Firefighters Burn Institute. Marg Jackson/The Times

The weather cooperated, the volunteers turned out, traffic was heavy – and motorists were generous.

All that added up to a hugely successful Fill The Boot drive this past weekend in Escalon, with firefighters stationed at the main intersection for several hours both Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22. Proceeds of the annual event benefit the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento.

“We wrote a check for $23,765,” said firefighter Jennifer Cannon, this year’s Fill The Boot coordinator for the Escalon Fire Department. “I am so excited.”

It is one of the largest collection totals in recent years and Cannon said several factors did figure in. They started the collection at about 8 a.m. each day and stayed at the Escalon-Bellota, McHenry Avenue, Highway 120 intersection throughout the day.

“We stayed out all the way until 4 p.m., both days,” Cannon said. “It was also the Chocolate Festival (in nearby Oakdale) and I think that brought traffic.”

Cannon said the word was also spread about the upcoming effort, both in the newspaper and on social media, with many people posting information about the two-day collection effort.

“We are so thankful,” she said of herself of the firefighters that manned the intersection, armed with their turnout boots, noting they were extremely grateful for the reception they received.

New this year, youngsters could stop by and take part in a firefighting obstacle course, putting on the turnout gear, crawling under and over some obstacles and then ‘rescuing’ a training dummy brought in the for the occasion.

“We didn’t have a lot of kids but those that did it seemed to really enjoy it,” Cannon said. “Some asked if they could do it more than once.”

A fire engine on scene was also utilized, kids able to take a look at the various pieces of equipment and learn about the truck.

Making an appearance to collect some funds was Sparky the fire dog, who seemed to be a hit, both with motorists and the youngsters attending.

Also spending some time with the firefighters this year was Jim Doucette of the Firefighters Burn Institute, who had a display with information about the program and the various services offered there to burn victims and survivors.

Contributions to the Fill The Boot effort help provide burn recovery programs including support groups and kids camps for young burn survivors, burn prevention and community education. It also provides scholarships for burn survivors, burn team professionals and firefighters and offers continuing support for regional burn treatment facilities.

The Firefighters Burn Institute was founded by Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522 in December 1973. It is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. More information is available by visiting

“I am very grateful that they came out,” Cannon said of Doucette and the informational booth he provided.

She estimated about 15 Escalon firefighters volunteered their time to ‘work the corners’ and collect donations in their turnout boots. Motorists were provided with a flyer to indicate they had donated, so they weren’t asked again if they passed through the intersection more than once during the weekend.