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Fireworks facility owner, volunteers jointly raise mission funds

MARSHALL, Texas (BP)–Some students in East Texas Baptist University’s Baptist Student Ministries are on mission trips. Others are volunteering at Fantastic LTD Fireworks Limited in Marshall, Texas, this Fourth of July to earn money for the summer mission fund.

Fantastic Fireworks gave us an opportunity to do this,” ETBU’s BSM director Allan Thompson said. He said it’s admirable for a fireworks company to allow a non-profit group to donate their time to earn money for summer mission trips.

Volunteers are not getting paid, but Fantastic Fireworks is donating a flat $5,000 fee to the fund for their donated time. In addition, Thompson said he’d figure out how much students earned and allocate half of what they earned to the mission projects or church organizations of their choosing.

Miles Darby, co-owner of the business, said the Highway 59 facility, opened in December, is their first large retail facility. They decided to give a non-profit group an opportunity to volunteer there to meet all of their fund-raising needs by working 10 days during the seasons, he said.

“I think it’ll work out great,” Darby said.

While they’re providing the group with resources for summer mission funds, the group is providing free labor. “Last season we had hired help,” Darby said. “(Now) we got Allan Thompson bringing kids. It’s a win-win situation. We’re excited about it.”

The neat thing is volunteers are running everything and enjoying it, he observed. Ed Bause, Darby’s partner, takes the volunteers outside and demonstrates how fireworks work.

Thompson said about 30 people are volunteering at the fireworks facility for the student ministry, but not all are from ETBU. “We have high school kids from the choir and local churches,” he said. Some ETBU faculty members also offered their time.

Andy Tyndall, audio visual technician at ETBU, said while he’s not a part of the ministry, he’s very much involved with their efforts and more than happy to help out his ETBU family. “Any money earned by me helping will help them so they can go on mission trips,” he said. “By doing that, I’m in the ministry too.”

Volunteers help out in whatever capacity they can, whether it’s explaining about the varieties of fireworks, checking out customers, carrying the purchases to cars or simply greeting people with a smile.

Dylan Corpier, 13, a member of Central Baptist Church youth group, is one of the youngest volunteers. He escorts customers around the facility with a buggy and helps with their choices. Corpier’s mother said he loves it. He gets really animated when it comes to informing the customers about the varieties of fireworks, volunteer Allison Ratcliff said.

Ms. Ratcliff, an ETBU softball player, said she’s not a member of BSM, but she wanted to help them anyway she could by volunteering at Fantastic Fireworks. She found out about the opportunity during the last day of chapel at ETBU. “I saw an advertisement on a video that said help raise money for BSM,” she recalled. “I wasn’t going to do anything this summer so I’ll help earn money for them.” Not only has it been a help for BSM, but Ms. Ratcliff said it’s been good work experience for her. She’s learned salesmanship and all about the fireworks business.

“It’s just been fun working here,” the junior education major said. She’s learned the fireworks lingo and she’s also met several out-of-state visitors. Watching adults come into the business like a kid in a candy store is fun, she said.

Thompson said it’s been a unique experience for everyone. “We’ve never done this before,” he said. “Most have no experience in retail. We’re learning from each other and it’s all based on trust and faith.”

“We’re all a bunch of Christian people who love the Lord and want to work for the Lord,” Tyndall added. “Anyway I can do it makes me happy.”

Thompson said there are about 100 members in BSM and he has students all over the world on mission trips this summer. They’re on internships and short and long-term mission trips. Some are in Colorado, inner city Washington, D.C., New York, Montana and East Asia this summer. They’re working with children at Vacation Bible Schools, Bible classes and summer camps. Some are working in hospitals in Africa this summer, as well as youth ministries, and helping smaller churches, he said.

For Thompson, the greatest thing is his students get to be an example of Christ for the children. “Beyond that they get to see the world through a different culture and perspective,” Thompson said. “They see God’s a lot bigger. He’s a God for the whole world.

“It helps them realize they serve a God of all people, not just their own.”
Story courtesy of the Marshall News Messenger. Used by permission.

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  • Robin Y. Richardson