(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
In exchange for their time, these groups receive a percentage of their total sales, according to Brian Bradley, Jaycee Concessions Chairman.
"It's a really good opportunity that the Jaycees provide for us," said Joel Evans, head junior class sponsor at Kelly High School in Benton. "We provide them with a work force and are also able to earn money."
Bradley agreed. "It's a win-win situation," he said. "We really appreciate the support these groups give us, because without them, we couldn't run the stands."
And without the Jaycees, these organizations would have to find other resources to fund their projects.
For several years, the Kelly High School Junior Class has facilitated the funnel cake stand at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo. "The money we receive will help pay for prom," Evans said.
In fact, the four nights of work almost cover the entire cost of the prom. Evans added that the funnel cake stand is a quick, easy fund raiser for the junior class. The timing is also good, since most prom expenses are incurred early in the school year.
Courtney Glastetter, Kelly junior class president, agreed with Evans. She also pointed out that they have plenty of people to run the stand, since juniors are required to volunteer at least one night in order to attend prom. However, Glastetter and several others will be working multiple shifts.
This is Evans' first year working in the funnel cake stand as a class sponsor. However, he has had past experience with the Sikeston Swim Team, who now runs the East Pepsi stand.
Kathy Medley, a swim team board member and parent, said running the rodeo stand is their organization's major fund raiser as well. The money earned is used to pay coaches, rent the pool from the YMCA and buy lane lines and other equipment.
"It helps us get through the year," Medley commented. "It's actually pretty vital to the organization."
Working the concession stands requires long and hard work. Medley and Evans said that their groups arrive around 5 p.m. and the stands usually stay open until midnight. Then the volunteers stay to clean up and get everything ready for the next night. And for some sponsors, such as Evans, Tuesday night, cleaning and stocking the stands in preparation for opening night.
However, working at the rodeo is also quite enjoyable. "We work hard but have a good time," Medley commented. "There are parents who no longer have kids on the swim team that still come out and help."
Evans said that he and other class sponsors enjoy meeting and working with students' parents in a non-school environment. "A lot of my students are juniors and seniors," he said. "This will be my first opportunity to meet most of their parents."
Parents and sponsors cook the food, while students serve the customers. And this is a valuable lesson for students. "Students get experience with business," Evans said. "They are providing a service where things are in demand."
Young workers interact with their peers, the public and the Jaycees, which Bradley said they aren't used to. "They also get to see what goes into a business," he said.
Glastetter added that students gain experience in working with money and learn to work with others. Youth volunteers also get face to face contact with their customers.
Thirteen-year-old Katie Bloemer has worked in the East Pepsi stand with the swim team since she was eight. She has enjoyed her experience. "You learn responsibility and it's fun," she said.
Bloemer also pointed out that working at the concession stand is a good way to socialize with her friends on the swim team. "We never get to talk at practice," she said. "But we do here."