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Pick up some ‘boom, pop and sizzle’ for good causes
Kiwanis scrips
Rufus Keaton, Jennifer Cullum, David Martin and Jennifer Oleson pose with their scrips in front of the Kiwanis of Greater Turlock fireworks booth on East Canal Drive on Tuesday morning ahead of their Wednesday grand opening (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

One of the longest running fireworks fundraisers in the Turlock area is back for its 23rd year, as the Kiwanis of Greater Turlock is once again teaming up with local children’s organizations to sell scrips for their booth on The Village Corner Shopping Center on E. Canal Drive.

Every year, the club works alongside student organizations from local schools and non-profits to sell the $10 tickets stubs that can be used towards purchases at the fireworks booth. The proceeds of scrip sales are split 50/50 between the Kiwanis club and the student organizations.

The man behind the idea was Rufus Keaton, a Kiwanian of over 20 years. The club had ran a fireworks booth since the 1980s, and in 2000, it was suggested by Keaton that they transition to a scrip program so that they could help as many local organizations as possible.

“When I started working at the high school (Turlock), I saw everybody fundraising for their own groups, selling popcorn and candy bars, so I just said, ‘Let’s sell these scrips for the fireworks and you can take half of what we make,’” he explained.

When the program first started, there were about five to six local organizations participating and reaping the rewards of the collaborative scrip program. This year, there are almost 30 from Turlock and surrounding towns including Denair, Hilmar and Hughson. The organizations include high school bands, FFA chapters, NJROTC programs, church groups, volleyball teams, cheer squads, golf teams, tennis teams, basketball programs, speech and debate, ASB organizations and more.

Scrips are sold by children and their families of the participating organizations as well as Kiwanians. According to Kiwanian David Martin, they raise up to $30,000 to $40,000 every year.

“We help a wide variety of people with the different organizations,” Martin said. “Last year we gave away $30,000 in scrip money and Kiwanis made around $30,000 too, and all that money we made goes back to the kids anyway. All the money we bring in goes right back out with all our community service projects.”

Organizations at Turlock High have been participating in the program since its inception in 2000. Jennifer Cullum serves as the student body advisor at Turlock High and has seen the benefits of the scrip program firsthand.

“We’ve had so many groups participate over the years, and it’s been such a great program for all of them,” she said.

Jennifer Olesen, head coach of the Pitman High girls golf team, was encouraged by Turlock High head girls golf coach Mary Krupka to participate in the program. In their first year, the Pride golfers have raised close to $2,000 thus far.

“We were told that we had to do this, so I gave Rufus a call and it was such an easy process. And once we got the tickets, we had a little competition amongst the girls. We only had six girls do this since we had four seniors graduate, and we did it,” Oleseon said.

The fireworks booths across town will open for the first time on Wednesday. Though thousands of scrips have already been sold, they can still be bought through participating students or through most Kiwanians. Even if community members can’t get their hands on scrips, a purchase from the booth will still go to the Kiwanis of Greater Turlock, which in then use the funds for community projects, as Martin previously referred to.

“Kiwanis is a non-profit, and all the fireworks booths around town are ran by other non-profits,” Martin said. “Everybody is raising money for their own cause and people choose what cause they want to support. It’s all volunteer ran, so it’s all about helping the children.”