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Firefighters use fireworks proceeds to help others
Chief Gene Neely of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Protection District and his group at the Phantom Fireworks booth at West Lathrop Road near Harlan Road.

The first sale of the day at the Phantom Fireworks booth was a big-ticket item on Monday.

The Backyard Bash is the largest assortment of the safe and sane variety available for the upcoming the Fourth of July celebration.

“It was good way to start the day,” said Rozelle Neely, who was one of several volunteers working the booth benefiting families and programs of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Protection District.

The fireworks booth is located not too far away from Station 33 — specifically, on West Lathrop Road near Harlan Road next to the UFO-themed Power Mart convenience store.

According to Neely, whose husband is Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely, the firework booth has been a major fundraising project for firefighters servicing the City of Lathrop and the surrounding rural areas for over five years.

“(Proceeds) will help provide equipment for fire training along with team-bonding activities for firefighter families,” she said.

Firefighters along friends and family members have been operating the fireworks booth that officially opened for business over the weekend — it’s open daily till 10 p.m., or through Thursday based on inventory.

“We have a lot of young families,” said Gene Neely, who noted that emergency situations have occurred in the past.

Fundraisers such as the sales of fireworks do help those families get through the tough times.

The Lathrop-Manteca Fire Protection District, in addition, was able to financially support the “Every 15 Minutes” programs and Manteca Unified’s Charter High School, in particular, sending students to the recent SkillsUSA California competition in Ontario.

As for the cost of the Backyard Bash assortment package — $600.

More importantly, it’s about helping family, according to Gene Neely

“At the end of the day, if we don’t support each other, why are we here? (What we do) is more than just a job,” he added.