According to organizer Steve Winsor's final tallies, Coventry Professional Firefighters Local 3372 raised $24,469.08 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association over two weekends in August during the annual "Fill the Boot" donation drive.
Despite the continued poor economy, the district's collections were up more than $7,000 from last year's total of $17,000.
Firefighters collected donations on Tiogue Avenue, Sandy Bottom Road, Fairview Avenue, Washington Street and Center of New England Boulevard. Mobile collections were also set up at several local businesses including Tom's Market, Rock Junction, Coventry Credit Union, Atwill-Conroy Dental Associates, Fat Belly's Irish Pub, Dunkin Donuts and Centreville Bank.
Winsor and CCFD Captain Dave Gorman also wanted to thank employees from Centreville Bank who counted 209 pounds of coins by hand during the first weekend when the branch's coin machine was out of order.
We definitely want to thank the community of course, we could have never reached the $24,000 without their support, and a special thanks to the businesses that hosted the mobile collections and donated money themselves," said Winsor.
"A lot of people still don't understand where the money is going, but we did a lot of signage this year in advance of the intersections to educate them," said said Gorman. "It seems to become accepted by the community a little more each year and people were really generous this time."
"There were a lot of $20 bills," agreed Winsor.
The collection crews were supplemented by several on-duty firefighters in between calls but mostly consisted of off-duty firefighters who volunteered their own time.
"The support of our firefighters really made this successful," said Gorman. "The guys knew that it was something to be proud of and they did a great job. I also want to thank Steve for stepping up and taking the lead this year, he did a tremendous job for his first year."
"I really tried to empower the guys to have pride in collecting such a large number and we worked as a team," said Winsor. "Everyone did their share and everyone was happy. We kept them hydrated, kept them fed and it worked out well."
Gorman explained the district moved away from the typical meals of take-out pizza during the boot drive and instead offered firefighters a selection of Subway's healthiest subs.
He also elaborated on the planning that goes into a boot drive.
"There's a lot of prep work that goes into it as far as safety and traffic. You need to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings," he said. "MDA provides all of the training material beforehand, and we also have to pick up and put out the signage, advertise and secure insurance coverage. There's a lot of work involved on the back end."
The Muscular Dystrophy Association will use the funds locally to help cover medical expenses, research, support services and a one-week summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy.