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Non-profit groups get bucks for small bangs

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POSTED June 14, 2014 1:40 a.m.

They get the best buck for every small bang they can sell.

“We don’t get rich but it is well worth the effort,” said Ripon Councilman and American Legion Post 190 member Elden Nutt of the organization’s Safe & Sane Fireworks Fourth of July fund-raising.

The Post is one of five non-profit organizations in the city that has been approved to have a booth that sells Safe & Sane Fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration in Ripon. Not that many non-profits in Ripon have stepped forward to take advantage of this fund-raising activity, so there was no big scramble or competition in the selection process unlike bigger cities like Manteca, said Nutt. That’s how American Legion has managed to have it every year since the city started it five years ago.

While straight revenues from the fireworks sales sound a lot, the net amount the organizations receive in the end is much less than that. American Legion’s little more than $10,000 gross sales last year, for example, netted them between $3,000 and $4,000.

The rest of the money goes to the fireworks supplier that is contracted to do it.

“The groups sell the fireworks, and they (the fireworks supplier) furnish the booth, the product, and we get supposedly 50 percent. But it never works that way,” said the former Ripon mayor who has served twice as commander of American Legion 190, and a member for 33 years.

In many instances, non-profits have to pay rent for the property where booths are placed.

“It’s a good money-making (project) for non-profits. I think we should be making more money but it’s still money you didn’t have before,” Nutt said.

Besides, it’s a good opportunity for all Legion members and volunteers to “sit around and talk” and have fun overall, added the Korean Navy veteran and former Ripon Police chief.

Their booth is always set up every year behind the American Legion Hall which is located next to the Ripon Fire Station on Locust Avenue off Main Street, next to the Highway 99 on ramp, off ramp downtown.

Every penny they raise from the sale of the fireworks all go back to the community in the form of scholarships, donations to help the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and other groups to go to camp, and many other projects. The Legion has also donated the flag pole and flag at the Ripon High School’s football field and stadium.

The American Legion’s fireworks booth will be open for business for five days including the day of the Fourth of July which falls on Friday this year. The booth will be open starting Monday, June 30, and every day after that until Friday. The booth will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m. on Fourth of July.

Lathrop, like Ripon, has approved five non-profit organizations to have Safe & Sane Fireworks fund-raising booths this year, confirmed Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely. Two of them are River Islands Academy and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church who are getting into the fund-raiser for the first time.

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