Special to Iredell Free News

Each year Scouts from all across the country sell popcorn as a way to support their unit activities. Last fall one local Scouting unit gained national recognition by selling over $166,000, more popcorn than any other group in the nation.

Scouts from Pack and Troop 377, sponsored by Rocky Mount Methodist Church, were a fixture in front of Lowe’s, Harris Teeter, Tractor Supply or other local retail outlets asking residents to support Scouting.

“We are actually not selling popcorn,” explained Scoutmaster and Cubmaster Mike Bernhardt. “We are selling Scouting—the popcorn is really just a means of doing so. We are trying to teach our Scout ‘life skills’ like teamwork, perseverance, goal setting, being self-sufficient, learning to look an adult in the eye and with a smile on your face ask them to do something for you and, probably the most difficult skill of all, keeping that smile when you have been turned down by five customers in a row.”

The sales campaign was organized and run by “Popcorn Kernel” Bonnie Phifer, who lived for almost three months with boxes of popcorn piled to the ceiling in her living and dining rooms.

“Next year we are going to invest in a trailer,” said Phifer. “This was just overwhelming.”

Daniel Cerven was the top selling Scout with over $14,000 and Scouts Gavin Mccandliss, Jordan Johnson and Evan Johnson each topped the $10,000 mark.

“The money earned by these Scouts will be used to pay for everything from new troop equipment to trips to go scuba diving in Florida or hiking in the New Mexico mountains next summer,” says Scoutmaster Bernhardt. “These Scouts also learn to help other people during this sales campaign since about 30 percent of each dollar earned goes to support the local Piedmont Council to pay for upkeep on local camps, scholarships to camp and support for other local Scouting units. Our customers just see a Scout selling popcorn—what they do not see or realize are the tremendous life changing experiences these Scouts are going through.”

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