Firefighters try to fill the boot

By Tony Parra

The Portales Firefighter department members are out in full force again this year with “Fill the Boot”, and people can see signs of of the fund-raising effort for muscular dystrophy and Jerry’s Kids across the city.
“This is our only major fund-raiser of the year,” Portales Fire Marshall Mike Running said. “This if the first year we have been at Wal-Mart. It’s been nice to have Wal-Mart help us out.”
The department has some additional help this year from Sparky. Sparky is a remote-controlled Dalmation, complete with a yellow fireman’s suit and a red miniature fire truck. The dog was operated by Running on Thursday. Running operated the dog from his fire truck about 50 feet away, asking people to “fill the boot.”
The robot altered Running’s voice and created a higher-pitched voice for Sparky.
“The kids think he’s awesome,” Running said. “My wife brought some of the kids from daycare. They were hugging and kissing him. He’s worked out good for us.”
Running said they received Sparky two weeks ago thanks to a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant.
Running said Wal-Mart will match up to $1,000 for what Sparky is able to collect.
There have also been Portales Fire Department members collecting donations on First and Second Street. Fire Department Lieutenant Harlin Stobb was one of the members collecting next to the streets on Thursday. Some of the Fire Department members sporadically made collections, as they had to answer emergency calls on Thursday during collection times.
“I don’t feel bad having to stop collecting donations to answer an emergency call,” Stobb said. “Our No. 1 job is to answer emergency calls. We can get donations at other times.”
Fire Department members will be collecting again today, in the afternoon. Today is the final day of a three-day window in which fire department members will be out in the streets.
“It’s great,” Stobb said about collecting. “It’s for a good cause. People have been friendly and real giving.”
Last year, the fund-raising event took place on the last weekend of August. This year the event is taking place on the weekend following the Roosevelt County Fair week.
“I don’t think (the timing) will affect the donations,” Running said. “People have been so good. The people of Portales have always supported us and they have been generous.”
Portales firefighters raised $5,236.20 in 2001, $4,872.89 in 2002 and $5,077.12 in 2003 through “Fill the Boot”. Running said on Wednesday, the department collected more than $1,000.