Athol Firefighters hold annual MDA boot drive 

  • Athol Firefighters held their annual “Fill the Boot” drive in downtown Athol this week to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. From left, firefighter Kevin Kaczmarczyk, Medic-ride student Taylor Warren and Art Shepardson chat with a motorist who stopped to make a donation. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/Deborrah Porter

  • Firefighters boot drive sign. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/Deborrah Porter

Staff Report
Published: 11/15/2019 9:40:21 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 9:40:08 PM

ATHOL — When they’re not rescuing people from burning buildings, accidents or other emergencies, our local firefighters find other ways to help save people.

Despite temperatures dipping into the low 20s, Athol Firefighters held their annual “Fill the Boot” drive to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association “Jerry’s Kids” in downtown Athol earlier this week.

The bundled-up firefighters ignored the biting wind and cheerfully bantered with smiling drivers waiting for the traffic lights to change. They held out familiar authentic (but clean), sturdy black rubber boots trimmed with yellow for those who reached out to donate coins and/or bills.

Large yellow caution signs centered dead center between travel lanes several yards away alerted motorists to the activity ahead. Despite momentary standstills during green lights, traffic moved at a slow, but steady pace through the Main and Exchange streets intersection in both directions without blaring horns from those traveling behind others who paused to donate.

The firefighters typically hold the drive a few weeks earlier in the fall, but conflicting schedules necessitated the fundraiser be bumped up a few weeks on the calendar. “It’s usually a lot warmer,” said Firefighter Kevin Kaczmarczyk.

Firefighters taking collections included Andy Soltysik, Adam Harris, Kevin Horrigan, Jamal Hamilton, Kevin Kaczmarcayk, Art Shepardson, Chad Girard, Will Publicover, and Greenfield Community College Medic-Ride student Taylor Warren.

Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera had approved the four-man crew that was on shift to also help out. An ambulance was parked on Exchange Street for quick response if any calls came in during the drive.

No emergency calls were received during the four-hour drive, “We were not called away, “said Kaczmarczyk, who added, “The public response was fantastic. I think we did better than last year.” He noted nearly every vehicle that drove through the center stopped to give a donation and, “some people drove through the lights multiple times — and stopped to donate each time.”

The donations benefit research to combat muscular dystrophy and diseases of the nervous system and muscular system.

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