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Joe Williford, a volunteer firefighter and city building inspector, right, becomes one of the first local residents to contribute to the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Fill The Boot drive by dropping cash into TFD Lt. Aaron Garrett’s boot Friday at the fire station. Firefighters will be posted around the city and in some of the rural communities on Aug. 30 collecting funds for MDA.

The Labor Day holiday will be celebrated next weekend and Cherokee County firefighters will be involved in some labor they don’t mind at all. In fact, they enjoy it.

Firefighters from across the county will be asking people driving in Tahlequah and surrounding communities to dip into their pockets and help raise money to fight muscular dystrophy.

Some will also be walking the parade route during the Cherokee National Holiday seeking donations.

Firefighters Joe Williford and Casey Baker are leading the TFD effort, but they are quick to say all county departments are involved in the effort.

“We collected the most funds per capita last year of any department in the state,” Baker said. “Only seven departments collected more than we did, and they were much bigger departments.”

A list of Oklahoma departments contributing to the cause in 2007 shows Tahlequah with collections of $15,960, with a note that the total includes funds collected by the Cherokee County Firefighters Association.

Lowrey Fire Chief Larry Watts said he and some of his fellow firefighters will be in Tahlequah near Downing and the Bertha Parker Bypass on Aug. 30 to collect donations.

“Several of the other departments will be coming in too,” he said. “Some, like Keys and Hulbert, will collect in their own areas.”

Watts said the MDA Fill The Boot drive is something all firefighters like to do.

“We’re helping raise money for a good cause,” he said. “We’re proud to do it for the kids.”

He said he and the Lowrey firefighters will stay on the north side of Tahlequah so they can rush back to their service area should they receive a call. He said all departments will have manpower in their service areas ready to take calls.

Williford said firefighters will be stationed at the major intersections as in years past. They will be at Muskogee and the Bypass, Downing and the Bypass and the U.S. Highway 62-State Highway 82 junction.

“All of the firefighters will be wearing shirts from their respective departments so people can identify them as firefighters,” he said.

“It’s a joint effort between Tahlequah and the Cherokee County Firefighters so some of them will have other department shirts on.”

He said motorists can count on firefighters being in those areas from 8 a.m. until about 2 p.m.

“We’ll accept donations here at the fire department before Saturday if people want to come by,” Williford said.

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