Help fill a boot, so they can fill a stocking

Altona firefighter Daryl Rempel wants you to help them fill the big fireman's boot with spare change, so they can support provincial and local charities.

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With the Manitoba Sunflower Festival coming up this weekend, it’s time to get your toonies, loonies and nickels and dimes ready for the annual Altona Fire Department Boot Drive.
This Saturday during the parade, you’ll see local volunteer firefighters walking the parade route, carrying a big fireman’s boot.
If you have any spare change to donate, just toss it in.
Volunteer firefighter Daryl Rempel has been involved with the drive for many years.
He explains the money raised will go towards a local and provincial charity.
“This year we are splitting it between the Manitoba Firefighter’s Burn Fund and our local charity this year is the Rhineland Empty Stocking Fund,” he says.
“We are hoping with this extra money we’re able to collect for them, they can have the funds to help those less fortunate this Christmas.”
Rempel says he is always blown away by the level of giving in the community.
“Some people collect their change all winter long, preparing to give it to us in the summer. Last year we raised $5,000, split between Blue Sky Opportunities and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Manitoba.
“We’re hoping this year we can surpass that. Our goal every year is to surpass the preceding year.”
He says they chose the Empty Stocking Fund among several local charities they support, and they try to alternate them every year.
“The Empty Stocking Fund is a great cause to support, simply because it helps some people have a better Christmas. Everybody thinks about it at Christmastime. Why not think about it now? Their need has increased over the years. It’s sad that an organization like this is needed, but at the same time, it’s so good that we have it. We’re glad we can help contribute.”
Rempel says supporting the Manitoba Firefighter’s Burn Fund is also vital.
“Over the years some of the funds we’ve collected for them have gone to buy something most people wouldn’t find very extraordinary. But for those who need it, it’s everything. We’ve helped purchase a fridge which stores human tissue, to treat those who have been involved in a fire. Unfortunately we’ve had individuals from our area who have had to use the services there and it’s actually quite humbling to go there and see the unit for yourself. Then you see the donor wall and it makes you proud to know there are that many people who care about something like that.”
The department is thankful for the ongoing support from local residents, year after year.
“Every dollar we can give to a charity is a dollar they did not have before, that they can put towards assisting somebody else. Whether it’s for research or being able to buy a can of food.”
Being involved with the boot drive all these years has been incredibly rewarding, Rempel says. “Seeing the smile on someone’s face as they drop the change into that boot. The friendly hellos as we walk the route. Connecting with the community, and giving something back. That’s what it’s all about.”