As an organization helping over 400 people overcome homelessness and domestic abuse each year, the Muscatine Center for Social Action (MCSA) needs a lot of funding to keep its programs running. In a unique partnership, MCSA has joined forces with Hy-Vee for a third year in a row for their annual fireworks sale. Always a “flashy” fundraiser, this event helps MCSA cover some of its most vital non-grant funded costs.
As a non-profit organization, Executive Director Scott Dahlke shared that MCSA receives grant money to help pay for many of its big projects, such as improving the restroom facilities for the men’s shelter and installing play equipment for resident kids. However, most grants do not cover regular operating expenses. Ranging from paying staff salaries, covering the cost of cleaning supplies, keeping the office stocked, and helping residents pay for vital documents such as birth certificates and social security cards, covering these expenses truly makes a difference.
Three years ago, Jim Simmons, an MCSA board of directors’ member and manager at Hy-Vee, came up with an innovative way to cover these important costs. At that time, Bellino Fireworks first approached him about having a stand in the Hy-Vee parking lot. Simmons realized that he could take a portion of the proceeds Bellino’s gave Hy-Vee and donate it to MCSA to allow them to cover any expenses they needed to. He brought the idea to the board, and they accepted it on a trial basis.
From there, sales and profits for MCSA took off. In its first year, with the help of ninety-nine MCSA volunteers, the stand brought in $15,400 dollars; the following year with 107 volunteers, the stand made nearly as much, bringing in an impressive $14,800. With a successful track record, MCSA and Hy-Vee decided to continue their partnership again this year.
So far, Dahlke reports firework sales have proved strong again. From the time the tent opened through June 25th, ninety-nine people had already volunteered at the stand. Daily profits averaged $5,000 per day before Bellino Fireworks took their cut. Dahlke considers these daily earnings on target and knows with the continued help of volunteers and buyers that the tent will bring in at least, if not more funds than last year.
Each year, Dahlke marvels at the uniqueness and effectiveness of the fireworks fundraiser. “It’s amazing, honestly,” he said. “It shows how creative our community can be. Hy-Vee is a very positive presence in our community.”
The MCSA fireworks tent fundraiser will continue through the Fourth of July. With open hours from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm daily, everyone looking for fireworks for their Fourth of July fun has plenty of opportunities to purchase some and support MCSA’s mission. For those wanting to go a step further and volunteer at the fireworks tent, Dahlke recommends contacting Jenny Leirness, MCSA’s Resource Development Officer, by emailing her at [email protected] or calling (563)-264-3278.