Every year, fireworks booths pop up around every city ahead of Fourth of July celebrations. Each booth is ran by local organizations and are major fundraising opportunities.
Kiwanis of Turlock is one of the oldest organizations to participate in fireworks fundraising, and it’s one of their biggest money makers of the entire year.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” said Kiwanis member David Martin. “We are one of Phantom’s biggest sellers in the region and it’s by far one of our biggest fundraisers.”
While the fireworks sales help Kiwanis immensely, they aren’t just raising money for themselves.
Rufus Keaton is in charge of the scrips program, which are gift cards that local organizations sell to individuals to redeem at the Kiwanis Phantom booth on East Canal in front of Starbucks. When scrips are redeemed, half of those sales are directly given to that organization.
Tuesday was the first day that many booths were open to the public, and they will remain open every day through July 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Other groups selling at booths with different brands may have different hours of operation.
Martin explained that the first day of sales is typically very slow, but this year was something out of the ordinary.
“This morning, we’ve had twice as many people as we usually do on our first day,” Martin said. “Usually, we see parents and adults come by and buy the fireworks, but this year almost everybody has brought their kids and they are super excited about celebrating this.”
Also working at the Kiwanis booth on Tuesday was Riley Pukey, Dakota Caton and Jenny Lyn Patague. The three are members of the Circle K club at Stanislaus State, which is the collegiate version of Kiwanis and Key Club. This is the first year they were involved in working the booth, and it is seemingly a perfect match as Fourth of July is one of their favorite traditions.
This year, Pukey hopes to work on his grilling skills. Meanwhile, Caton and Patague are looking forward to getting together with their families and celebrating over barbeque. While they all enjoy the celebrating the day, their passion for helping others remains the primary reason they find themselves inside the Phantom booth.
“One of my favorite things is to serve others, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Caton said. “It’s been cool to interact with people throughout the day and help them.”
The sentiments of service were shared strongly by Martin, who encourages anyone wanting fireworks to stop at any booth around town, regardless of organization or brand.
“Every single booth is run by a non-profit, so that’s what makes this tradition so special,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you go, you’re making a difference.”