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June 25, 2008 > Newark, Union City non-profits hoping for recession-proof Fourth of July

Newark, Union City non-profits hoping for recession-proof Fourth of July

Submitted By David Dickstein

Fireworks Fund-Raisers Begin June 28

When a Flashing Fountain transforms into food and a Crackling Cactus converts to clothes, it's a clear sign that the Viola Blythe Center has had a successful fireworks fundraiser. For the twelfth year, the non-profit that helps citizens of Newark, Fremont and Union City with emergency food and clothing will be among thousands of community groups hopeful that patriotism will prevail over a downturned economy.

State-approved "safe and sane" fireworks will be sold from June 28 through July 4. Working in favor of the community organizations is the Fourth falling on a Friday, which boosts sales of state-approved fireworks over a non-weekend holiday, according to market leader TNT Fireworks.

"Tradition tends to be recession-proof, and for most Americans enjoying fireworks on Independence Day is one of the strongest, especially when it's over a weekend," said Cathy Castilone, Northern California vice president of American Promotional Events, the wholesale distributor of state-approved TNT fireworks. "Other reasons we predict more families and neighbors will celebrate the holiday together are the general economy and high cost of travel keeping people at home this season."

Viola Blythe Center's TNT Fireworks stand will be located at 2900 Newpark Mall Road, adjacent to Citibank in Newark. "The funds from fireworks sales make up a major portion of our income," said the executive director Debbie Caravalho, daughter of the philanthropist for which the center is named. "Without this fundraiser we would only be able to open one day per week. It would severely curtail the number of people we are able to help."

Last year, none of the 6,500 men, women and children who came to the center for food or clothing was turned away. That goal is still in effect this year, according to Caravalho, though a portion of what's earned through fireworks will go toward a building fund.
"We have woefully inadequate space," she said.

While the Viola Blythe volunteers are peddling Piccolo Pete, Pink Diamonds and Purple Rain fountains at its stand, the Tri-Cities League of Volunteers will try to sell its fair share of fountains, spinners, smoke items and novelties across town at 6397 Jarvis Ave., next to Raley's Supermarket.

"We're proud to make this our 20th year raising funds with fireworks for enhanced quality of life in the Tri-Cities area of Fremont, Newark and Union City," said Harold Colon, the organization's executive director. "What we make goes toward our popular summer recreation program. We've got supervised games, sports, arts and crafts and much more, and all free for children."

Over in Union City, another community that allows the sale and discharge of state-approved fireworks, James Logan Band and Color Guard Boosters will be raising money to send the band to the birthplace of fireworks: China.

"Proceeds will help pay for our band to be part of the American delegation that will perform at Beijing Olympic events," said Brian Holland, who is chairing this year's fireworks fundraiser for the high school group. "Money also will go the more traditional expenses like transportation, musical instruments, uniforms and staff fees."

The boosters' TNT stand in Union City will be located near Applebee's at 30980 Dyer St. A complete list of TNT stand locations, safety tips and product information are available at

Have a safe and sane Fourth of July

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