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Southern Nevada nonprofits hope to see boost from firework sales

Updated June 30, 2020 - 8:15 am

Independence Day has never meant so much for many area nonprofits.

Freedom House Sober Living apartments, which provides assistance for people recovering from substance abuse, hopes firework sales will help carry the nonprofit through the challenges it is facing because of the coronavirus pandemic, program manager Robert Banghart said.

“For us, firework sales means the ability to house more people, and it goes into everything as a nonprofit,” Banghart said.

Nonprofits and charity organizations are the only approved sellers of “safe and sane” fireworks in Clark County from June 28 to July 4, and many are hoping that sales for the holiday will serve as a bright spot in tough times brought about by the pandemic, which has led to an uptick in services and dampened fundraising efforts.

Fundraising amid pandemic

According to a recent UNLV report that collected responses from 149 Nevada nonprofits between late April and mid-May, nearly 20 percent of all nonprofits indicated that they were unlikely to make payroll in the next month.

“Margins are tight, and that funding, in a time of year where it’s slow, it’s going to help us to feed, clothe and provide supplies for patients that stay here,” Banghart said.

Last year, Freedom House brought in $8,000 from its firework sales. This year, Banghart said, it has set up a booth “in a way better location,” at the Albertsons at 7350 S. Rainbow Blvd., and aims for $12,000 in proceeds.

Team Kenzie, a 5K racing team that raises money for Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada, said firework sales already look promising.

Since Sunday, Team Kenzie member Jeff Helvin said, the booth, at the Rebel at 9390 W. Flamingo Road, has seen more sales than this time last year.

“So far we have the highest sales for our first two days, which is usually very slow at the beginning of the week,” Hevlin said. “I’m hoping we get to $25,000 this year, and my instinct is that because of the lack of public events, maybe that’s driving more people to the booth and they’re going to do their own event.”

Selling fireworks every year is a way to keep MaKenzie Hanover’s memory alive and to support a local childhood cancer organization that has meant so much to her family. Hanover, who died in 2011 from brain cancer as a teenager, received support from the foundation.

Helvin, who is Hanover’s cousin, says Team Kenzie usually brings in at least $20,000 from firework sales.

Kimberly Kindig, CEO of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada, said the nonprofit is hoping firework sales from Team Kenzie’s booth will help offset some of the financial impact of the pandemic.

For example, the foundation’s 31st annual Candlelighters Superhero 5K in September may be moved to a virtual setting, which would probably hamper fundraising efforts.

Kindig said firework proceeds from Team Kenzie are crucial for the nonprofit to “continue to meet the needs of our families but also just in determining the rest of the year.”

‘America’s favorite pastime’

So far, 100 charities and nonprofits have been issued permits to sell fireworks for the week, according to Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling. Other local jurisdictions are also issuing permits.

This year, firework sales have skyrocketed in large part because the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, “which always gives us a boost in sales,” said Travis Williams, Phantom Fireworks’ regional manager for Nevada. The company is one of two authorized firework suppliers.

Phantom pays for nonprofits’ fees, including permit fees and rent for booth locations, Williams says, “because they might not have the extra cash around.” The nonprofits will pay those fees back out of the proceeds, and Williams says Phantom Fireworks splits its firework sales 50-50.

“It gives nonprofits an opportunity to raise the most amount of money in seven days for an entire year. We think it’s really important that these nonprofits can raise funds that stay here in Las Vegas,” he said.

He says he hopes this year will be a strong showing.

“This is America’s favorite pastime. It’s America’s birthday, and I haven’t really met anyone that doesn’t like fireworks.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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