When Pastor Doug Wheeler of Freedom Christian Center was planning what to do if his church got one of the 15 allotted fireworks booths in the city lottery, he thought about whom he could help.
It would have been easy to pocket the $10,000 he thinks that his booth – at the high-traffic intersection of Main Street and Mission Ridge Drive – will likely make over the next week.
But that’s not what he wanted to do – instead making sure that another group that could benefit from the fundraising opportunity that wasn’t lucky enough to get picked walked away with something as well.
“Not everybody who puts in for this gets picked, so I wanted to make sure that we worked with somebody else,” said Wheeler – who will be sharing the booth with the American Youth Soccer Association. “This is the third year that we’ve done this and we haven’t had great success at our other location at our church because it was kind of tucked away, but I think that this is a high-revenue booth because when I saw how many boxes were delivered I was kind of overwhelmed.
“It’s a lot of work but the money that we’re going to raise will help put up new soundproofing in the church and help our overall budget and I’m happy that AYSA is affiliated because there are kids that don’t have the money to play and this will help provide that opportunity for them.”
Wheeler arrived at the booth at 9 a.m. on Tuesday to begin the setup and wait for his final inspection by the Manteca Fire Department. With temperatures soaring past 100 degrees, he was ready to call it a day just before 4 p.m. when the next crew of workers from the soccer organization was set to show up.
Opening day for fireworks in Manteca – which has become a popular day for enthusiasts ever since the Manteca City Council approved the sale and use of safe-and-sane fireworks for the week leading up to Fourth of July, culminating at midnight on America’s holiday – is also the first time that many of the volunteers who will staff the booths for their respective organizations will get a taste of what the next few days will be like.
For Danette Grant of Manteca Presbyterian Church, Tuesday was a chance to fine-tune everything after getting the final approval from the fire department – laying out where all of the tags go and noting where to put everything away so the volunteers who staff the booth will have no problem making the transition from closed to open an easy one.
“It probably took us about 10 people to get everything the way it is right now,” Grant said. “We had a lot of people down here this morning and we’ve got a dedicated group that will be here every day to make this work to help benefit the church. It’s a good opportunity and after two years back-to-back we didn’t get drawn last year so it’s a chance to do it again.”