Firefighters fill boots with hope

Photo by Adam Lapierre

Hood River Firefighter Peter Mackwell collected money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) from a passing motorist this weekend.


News staff writer

August 10, 2005

Hood River firefighters have raised almost $10,300 to help families living with neuromuscular disease.

The second annual Fill-the-Boot campaign has generated $3,000 more than last year’s fund-raiser. And the city fire department could once again score first place for the percentage of its donation per member. All of the proceeds raised by 15 volunteers during two First Fridays, the Fourth of July and this weekend’s collection drive will be given to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

“We did great. This is a good way to raise money for a very worthy cause,” said Paul Henke, who organized the event.

He and his wife, Jennifer, joined other firefighter families on two street corners last weekend. They spent six hours on Saturday and Sunday flagging down motorists at Second and Oak streets and the junction of 12th Street and Pacific Avenue.

Although Henke said some people appeared confused when they saw men and women carrying around a rubber boot, most were aware of the fund-raiser. He said almost everyone who was approached willingly turned over a few dollars or pocket change — $1,665 in coins to be exact. Last year the fire department netted $7,000, so Henke is hopeful that with each year of public awareness the proceeds will continue to go up.

“This is something that he just really pours his heart and soul into,” said Jennifer.

Henke spearheaded the local MDA drive after attending a conference of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) last year. He said IAFF members were urged to support MDA because it is not funded by local state or federal governments.

“I came home and said ‘we need to do this’ and everyone said it was a great idea so we did,” said Henke.

MDA maintains 230 hospital clinics and 25 medical centers for diagnostic and follow-up care. More than 40 neuromuscular diseases are covered by MDA, which pays for nearly 400 research projects around the world. Seventy-six cents out of every dollar raised is spent on services.

Henke said people should plan on seeing firefighters out with the boot next year during the downtown First Friday celebration in August. They will also be stationed at the two intersections during that next two days.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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