Fireworks Sale Fuels Student Fund-Raiser

By Pam Robinson

Jul 3, 2009 2:32pm

ABC News On Campus reporter Xorje Olivares blogs: While most kids are told to steer clear of fireworks, some students from one Texas high school have their hands all over them. Twenty-one students with Bastrop High’s Naval Junior ROTC program have spent the past few weeks behind the counters of American Fireworks. It is a part of their summer fund-raiser this year, with each of them receiving a percentage of the profits made during a two-week period. Despite working every day, sometimes 12 hours at a time, these high school students, ranging in ages 15 to 18, say they are dedicated and are willing to do everything possible to get them to their field trip destination. “You work really hard from your freshman year to your senior year and we end up just going to Six Flags, so Hawaii would be a really big change,” said senior Ariel Owens. The group is hoping to travel to Pearl Harbor by next spring break, something these students from a town of nearly 8,000 had never imagined. Bastrop is a small town located about 30 miles southeast of Austin.
“If we were to raise enough money to be able to go to Hawaii, it would be a dream,” said junior Dalton Duderstadt. “I mean, we’re Naval ROTC—we take pride in everything. I want to look, see and think about what it may have been like several years ago.” After approaching American Fireworks to help with the fundraiser, the group’s sponsor, Chief David Canales, said they’ve received nothing but support from parents, who have supplied food and refreshments for the group and  served as security. Sales of fireworks are legal in Texas.  ”The kids doing this as a summer fundraiser, it’s been a blast for them,” said Canales. “They’ve enjoyed it, they’ve had fun.” It’s definitely a new twist on raising money, particularly for students who have relied on selling candy bars and beef jerky in the past. Although these sales brought in a substantial amount of money, the group’s commanding officer, Ryan De Franco said, nothing seems to compare to selling Black Cats and Roman Candles.  ”When Commander-in-Chief [Canales] brought this up, it was definitely the best kind of fundraiser that we could do,” De Franco said. “So as long as we keep doing as well as we have been doing, then I don’t have any doubt right now that we can accomplish this goal.” De Franco hopes that this trip will spark an interest in students thinking of joining the ROTC program next year, and that it helps with retention. But for Canales, the fundraiser serves as an educational tool, one that many students are not afforded at this point in their lives. “This also teaches them how to run a small business,” Canales said. “We decided to put another spin to this. So some of them may want to decide to operate small businesses and others may want to do something else.” It has been a tough lesson for the students. Although they’ve been working since June 24, sales have been slow.Canales said nearly 60 percent of the stand’s overall sales won’t happen until this weekend. He hopes that they can make about half of the money needed for their trip through the stand, a trip that could cost them around $40,000. In a given season, American Fireworks can make up to $165,000.

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