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Sunshine, Weekend Traffic Combine For Big Boot Effort
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Firefighters move in to accept donations from motorists stopped at the red light while driving on McHenry Avenue in Escalon over the weekend. The two-day collection was hosted at the main intersection and raised over $25,000 for the Firefighters Burn Institute. Marg Jackson/The Times

Bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid- to high-80s prompted plenty of people to get out on the highway this past weekend, heading to the lake for some recreational activities on the water or going up to the hills to do a little hiking.

That was good news for the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District firefighters that were stationed at the city’s main intersection, hoisting their turnout boots to collect money for the Firefighters Burn Institute.

The heavy volume of traffic helped bring in a sizeable amount of cash; coordinator Kaden Christensen reported on Monday morning that the total was likely heading past $25,000 with some coins still to be rolled and counted.

Motorists stopped at the intersection of Highway 120-McHenry Avenue-Escalon Avenue were approached by the firefighters, seeking donations of coins or paper money. There was also a Venmo option offered through the department this year.

A number of the department’s fulltime paid personnel, reserves and volunteers took shifts during the day both Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 to collect the funds.

All the money raised goes to the Firefighters Burn Institute of Sacramento for programs and services for burn survivors, as well as educational and information outreach efforts.

Christensen said he would have a final total on the amount raised later this week, once it all had been counted and deposited.

Among those working for the effort over the weekend was reserve firefighter Aaron Weimer, who has been with Escalon for just a couple of months.

“I love it, it’s fun. I like meeting all the nice people and everything,” Weimer said of helping out with the drive, adding that people were being generous. “We’re filling it up (turnout boot) a bunch.”

The fire department also recently had its 2023 Appreciation Dinner, returning after a couple of years’ hiatus due to COVID.

There were service pins and awards presented, including a 30-year pin to Mickey Schilber, earned in 2020; 25-year pin for Moe Silva, earned in 2021; and 20-year pins for Ryan Burr, Dave Velasco, earned in 2021; and Cassidy Bohannon, earned in 2022.

Receiving a 15-year pin was Joe Pelot, earned in 2022 and a 15-year pin and plaque went to Fire Chief Rick Mello, earned in 2021. Ten-year pins went to Jennifer Cannon and Joe Camara; receiving a five-year pin was Fabricio Gallo.

Chosen for the Distinguished Service Award, with a few players and coaches in attendance to receive the honor, was the 2022 CIF Division 4-AA State Football Champion Escalon Cougars.

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Fire Chief Rick Mello works a shift on Saturday morning, May 20, accepting a donation from a motorist during the Fill The Boot drive. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Smiling at a motorist, Jen Cannon has her turnout boot ready to accept donations in the Fill The Boot drive hosted over the weekend in Escalon. Marg Jackson/The Times