Faulkner County residents battled winter weather and took time out of their busy holiday weekends to donate to a good cause.

Firefighters and volunteers greeted residents and shoppers Friday and Saturday as the Conway Firefighters Local 4016 began its annual Fill the Boot campaign.

Billie Carter, Local 4016 Vice President, said the group raised $16,000 over the two-day period. Although he was pleased with the total, Carter said it fell short of last year’s opening weekend. The firefighters raised just over $20,000 during Thanksgiving weekend a year ago.

Carter said he hopes Faulkner County residents continue to come out and donate during Fill the Boot, which raises money to provide toys and clothes to area children. Funds raised also provide food baskets to county families in need.

"There’s always going to be the need," Carter said. "We’re going to keep our fingers crossed."

Firefighters will be out with their boots on the first two Saturdays in December at several locations around the county, including Conway Commons, Conway Towne Center, the Vilonia four-way, Kroger on Salem Road and Hastings/First Community Bank. Firefighters will be out from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the next two Saturdays.

Boots can also be found at several area banks and businesses.

In addition to collecting monetary donations, Fill the Boot will also have toy drop off locations at Salon Cortilo, We’ve Got Spirit and Edward Jones Office of Jerry Borden.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the Edward Jones Office of Jerry Borden on Dec. 11 to greet residents and have their pictures made.

Carter said while new toys are preferred, Fill the Boot will accept all toys that are donated.

Fill the Boot in Faulkner County began in the fall of 1998. Area firefighters raised $1,732 that year and provided food baskets and toys to 32 families.

The annual campaign has grown tremendously over the last 12 years and saw a record-setting year in 2009.

Fill the Boot usually provides food baskets to around 250 families and gives toys and clothes to about 1,000 children. This year, area dental offices are donating dental care supplies to be given to the children, as well.

Since its inaugural year, Fill the Boot has raised over $254,000 and touched the lives of over 8,000 children and their families.

Residents can send checks to Conway Firefighters Fill the Boot at P.O. Box 2367, Conway Ark., 72033.

(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at stephanie.fischer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)