Alisha Armstrong signs up for Fourth of July fundraising sales

The same day that she graduated from high school, Alisha Armstrong and her family decided to step up and help the community.

Armstrong is the lone candidate for this year’s Fourth of July royalty contest, and will sell raffle tickets to help raise money for the holiday celebration.

The ticket sales kickoff is planned for May 31 and will continue through July 3, with the prize drawings on July 4.

The chamber of commerce sponsors the Fourth festivities and depends on royalty candidates to sell tens of thousands of raffle tickets. The candidates earn a percentage of their ticket sales for all the work they and their supporters put into the fundraising, and the chamber uses its share of the proceeds to pay for fireworks and other parts of the holiday celebration.

No one had signed up for the royalty competition by the first deadline this month. The chamber then extended the deadline to noon Friday, May 17, and still no takers.

Chamber treasurer Kimberly Szczatko said she was typing out an email to chamber board members Friday afternoon, alerting them to the need to develop a Plan B to raise money, when Alisha’s mom, Heidi Armstrong, came into the chamber office to ask about the program.

Heidi Armstrong took the sign-up materials home and later called Szczatko with the news that her daughter would take on the task.

“They’ll probably have to do things a little differently” than contestants in past years, due to the short time available for planning, Szczatko said. Fourth candidates usually spend the entire month of June selling tickets at food booths and other events.

The chamber has run the fundraising royalty competition for almost 75 years.

Looking ahead, the chamber and community may need “a different model” to pay for the Fourth, Szczatko said, rather than counting on royalty candidates “and laying it all on one group.”

The work can be overwhelming, she said. “You need a really big team behind you.”

A downward trend in ticket sales has squeezed the chamber’s finances in recent years, prompting the nonprofit organization last year to solicit businesses, individuals and families to write checks and sponsor many of the Fourth of July contests and events.

Though in years past when two or three candidates would sell tickets in the fundraiser, just one candidate ran in three of the last four contests.

In previous years, the borough has contributed to the chamber budget to help with the Fourth. Borough Manager Mason Villarma said May 17 that he had not yet drafted the community contributions portion of the budget, which the assembly will consider next month.


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