SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Did you know that when you purchase fireworks at one of the roadside stands in the city of Sacramento, you're also supporting a local non-profit organization?
The city only grants licenses to sell to local "nonprofit organizations or corporations organized primarily for veteran, patriotic, welfare, civic betterment or charitable purposes,” according to city code.
Jermaine Brown runs a youth basketball league in South Sac called Elevate Your Game Junior NBA. This is the second Fourth of July season his non-profit "Hope Heart History", which operates Elevate Your Game, has operated the fireworks stand at 24th Street and Meadowview Road in South Sacramento.
He's really thankful for each and every customer.
"One of the things I do, I take a picture with every customer and I post in on social media, saying, 'Hey, thank you for your support," Brown said, adding the hashtag "#WhosNext"
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The money his non-profit earns from fireworks sales this time of year helps him afford gym and referee costs for the league, Brown said, plus it allows him to lower registration costs for the kids' families, "to be able to provide something for kids and something that's affordable for parents in the local community."
For many of the families his league serves, money is tight. So, people's fireworks purchases help kids afford to participate, stay safe, learn basketball skills and have fun.
"It's actually going right back here into this community," Brown said. "The basketball league is right there at Luther Burbank High School."
TNT Fireworks splits the profits with his organization 50/50, Brown said. Last year, the stand earned his non-profit about $8,000, all of which went right back into the South Sac community.
"I just appreciate the work that Jermaine does in the community. This was my first year with the league," South Sacramento mom Rebecca Person said.
Her son Keith plays in the basketball league, so she volunteers at the fireworks stand to help support Elevate Your Game.
“This stand, I know, will go right back into the community, right here in this community, in Meadowview, so that’s very important," Person said. “It’s going to the right person that has passion and cares about this community a lot.”
It's a community that Brown grew up in - and then left.
"I worked overseas as a civilian contractor, supporting the troops," Brown explained. "I worked for seven years over there: three years Iraq, three-and-a-half years Afghanistan."
When he came back to Meadowview, he said, "Hey, I want to be able to create a basketball league here, for my community."
Sixty-five kids joined the first season, four years ago. Now, thanks to partnerships with local football leagues, 220 kids played this past season.
"It's giving them something to do, keeping them out of trouble," Brown said.
When Elevate Your Game was started more than four years ago, Brown said he and his fiancée funded everything out-of-pocket. At the time, they charged $120 for the 10-week season. Now, between the fireworks sales, partnerships with other community organizations and other donations, Elevate Your Game’s registration fee has gone down to $75. They hope to reduce it further, based on this year’s fireworks sales.
Elevate Your Game Junior NBA serves kids ages 4-14, and it's not the only local group the fireworks stands are benefitting.
David Carmon with the David Carmon Educational Foundation reached out to ABC10.
"We give out toys every year for families in need," he said. "We work with kids with autism."
His fireworks stand is at 2600 Watt Avenue, in the parking lot of the Country Club Lanes strip mall.
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