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Non-profits hope for big fundraising bang
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Gary Vaughn feels like he's hit the jackpot before he even pulled the lever.

The Manteca Youth Focus vice president is about to see the non-profit entertainment group that doubles as a scholarship competition raise more money in a single week than it has in the last three years combined.

Manteca Youth Focus not only got selected in the city's fireworks lottery for the first time but locked down prime real estate next to SpeeDee Oil Change just a stone's-throw away from Louise Avenue and North Main Street. It is the busiest intersection in town.

By 5 o'clock tonight Vaughn will be out at the booth with a host of other volunteers who will help sell fireworks through the Fourth of July.

"We're just looking for some new sources to try and support our scholarship fund to be able to get more kids into the program and have some more scholarship money available," Vaughn said. "Our goal is always to get more kids into the competition each and every year, and to do that we needed to look at some other ways to raise money to make that possible."

The group has been able to rely on a handful of local sponsors like the Sunrise Kiwanis, Perry and Sons and the Manteca Noon Rotary. Expansion, though, has forced the group to look at other sources of revenue especially during a recession when private individual donations are on the decline.

Vaughn says that the group may generate as much as $15,000 after everything is paid off. That would almost equal the amount of money that has been paid out in scholarships in the last 10 years and top the amount of money that the group has raised in the last three years.

And while the kids involved in the program aren't legally able to sell fireworks, Vaughn believes having them on-site to help draw people in from busy Louise Avenue will both boost business and help promote the organization to people in the community who might not know very much about it.

"We're looking to not only raise money for the scholarship fund - which we distribute in our annual competition in March - but to also let them know who we are and what we're about," he said. "We've got a great location, and it will be a great opportunity to let some parents know about Manteca Youth Focus and to help grow the program while supporting it.

"We're hoping that the community will come out and help us reach our goal. It all ends up benefitting the kids."

The booth, located in the grassy patch just west of SpeeDee Oil Change, will be open today through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. until they either run out of fireworks or customers stop coming.

For more information about Manteca Youth Focus visit