Welcome Back to School!

28 Aug

Many schools throughout the United States are either preparing for their first week of school or are wrapping up their first week back.  We, here at Popcorn Palace, would like to say “Welcome back!” to faculty, students, and staff.

We love the start of school; it’s full of hope, plans, and excitement! The heat of summer has mostly passed, and everyone is reacquainting with friends they might not have seen for months. The start of school is also a perfect opportunity to set the school year up for success. Now is the time to start planning ahead and get started early on projects that will ultimately come to fruition further on in the year. We have 5 recommendations to help teachers and staff prepare for the 2015/2016 school year.

Re-Establish Your School Rhythm

This is the same advice I’d give students as well as faculty: jump back into a schedule immediately. The first weeks of school are going to be overwhelming, but make absolutely sure you’re getting into a set rhythm early on. Set aside structured time to sit down and focus, make sure you complete your homework prep, and if possible, avoid procrastinating because your “finish-it-later-pile” will quickly grow out of control.

Stock Up on Supplies

Everything is on sale for back to school, so think about what you might need well into the school year and stock up now, if possible. This might include school supplies, club supplies, and party supplies. Just an added tip, but we also recommend that you keep track of these supplies because we do have an educator expense deduction for qualified expenses as a teacher, counselor, principle, or aide. You might have heard it before… but have too much and too many of everything. You almost always need it.

Create Your Yearly Calendar

Schedules get overwhelming quickly. We’re usually focused on those first few weeks because they can be truly jam-packed. We recommend looking ahead though and getting future events onto the calendar. You’ll gain more control and be less surprised with upcoming events. What and when are major after-school events you need to be aware of? What are administrative deadlines and functions you should consider? Calendars can absolutely give you a command center that helps you keep your busy life straight.

Think Fundraising Early

We are a fundraising company, so of course, we’re always thinking about fundraising. One of the questions or concerns we frequently get from clients is… I need to fundraise immediately, what can I do? We can help at the last minute because we try to make fundraising as easy as possible, but it’ll make you feel better if you plan ahead with your fundraising needs. Contact fundraising companies early for information, pick your plan, and have the events set up well ahead of time. Fundraisers typically can raise more money, if they have more time for each step. If you’d like fundraising information for the start of the school year, please contact us, we’d be happy to help!

Be Ready for Anything

And last but not least, you need to be ready for anything. Although this list is all about preparation… you need to be flexible and adaptable. No matter how much you prepare, something surprising will happen. Students and administration will be impressing if when something goes awry, you can handle it quickly and gracefully.

Good luck and have a wonderful 2015/2016 school year!!


Recognizing the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)

20 Aug

For this week’s showcase, we are honoring the World Wildlife Foundation, otherwise known as WWF. Their mission is to inspire communities to take action in conserving the environment for all to enjoy for generations!panda-bear

WWF started in 1961 as a small group of wildlife enthusiasts, growing into one of the largest independent conservation organizations in the world. WWF stays active in over 100 countries on 5 continents, working with world leaders to enact sustainable development programs, protection laws for endangered species, and habitat preservation. The organization focuses its efforts on two broad areas: biodiversity and ecological footprint.

They focus on biodiversity to ensure that nature stays healthy and vibrant through the conservation of key locations and critical species that play ecologically critical roles. WWF helps biodiversity by working with local businesses and land owners to find practical solutions to problems like overfishing, pesticides, and poaching.

Ecological footprints are the negative impacts of human activity left in nature that requires intervention. WWF works to fix our ecological footprint by conducting research and implementing better methods for growing crops, managing fisheries, gathering energy, and dealing with waste through the support of private donors and government funding.

WWF works tirelessly with the support of nature enthusiasts to conserve wildlife for future generations to enjoy.  One such enthusiast is nine year-old Sean Hutton from Guelph, Toronto, Canada who started the first Polar Bear Walk two years ago at his school. Sean Hutton fell in love with his favorite animal, the polar bear, after watching a documentary on climate change with his family.

After learning about the harmful effects of climate change, Sean asked his friends and school to walk to school to keep cars off the road and reduce carbon emission. His walk was a big success, raising $910 to support WWF’s work in the Arctic!

This year, the Polar Bear walk grew as more students from other schools joined Sean in his walk to save the polar bears. Inspired by the students, three schools have agreed to encourage their students to walk home from school to support the Polar Bear Walk.

Kids and teens can get involved in wildlife conservation by joining Panda Nation, a community where WWF supports can help protect wildlife. Panda Nation lets classrooms, sports teams, and passionate individuals create their own fundraising campaign to help conserve clean water, start sustainable farming projects, and protect the oceans and forests. Supporters can even create fundraising campaigns to protect their favorite animal. Whether its pandas, elephants or tigers, a Panda Nation campaign will help WWF protect your favorite animals around the world!

Stay posted for next week’s showcase another non-profit whose work inspires communities to join together to support a good cause. If you have any questions on how to start a fundraiser for a non-profit near you, feel free to contact us below!

Recognizing No Kid Hungry

13 Aug

Healthy breakfast. Bowl of yogurt with granola and berriesFor this week’s showcase, we are recognizing Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. The No Kid Hungry campaign collaborates with local food banks, restaurants, and community leaders to create solutions for children in need.

Founding siblings Bill and Debbie Shore started Share Our Strength in 1984 as a response to the ’84 – ’85 famine in Ethiopia and were highly in bringing awareness against world hunger. In 2004, they turned their focus to the hunger issues in the United States with the introduction of the No Kid Hungry campaign to help hungry children get access to meals when school was out during the summer months. Since then, the No Kid Hungry campaign has become the exclusive partner of the Food Network, won the 2009 Golden Halo Award, and helped congress pass the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The No Kid Hungry campaign is made possible by the loving hearts of anti-hunger advocates like Bradley Wadas Blog Post, a boy who dedicated his 11th birthday to start a fundraising campaign. Bradley understood the pain of hunger when his friend’s family was going through hardship. He was deeply affected by the experience, and from it was inspired to take action against hunger. On his 11th birthday, he asked friends and family to share his fundraiser to help hungry children. Bradley started his fundraising goal was at $300 and managed to raise a total of $1,340 for No Kid Hungry!

The summer months are hardest for children living in poverty. For these children, schools provide more than an education. They help provide them with warm meals, sometimes the only meal they will have all day. The No Kid Hungry campaign works with cafeterias, food shelters, local governments, businesses, and top chefs to cook meals and offer solutions to help hungry children.

Although federal and state governments sponsor programs that help children in need, No Kid Hungry understands a one-size-fits-all system can’t meet the needs of children who live too far from government programs. To solve this problem, No Kid Hungry works to provide children with nutritious breakfasts, as well as access to government aid and private programs that feed children after school. No Kid Hungry also offers nutrition education for parents and children to help them make better food choices, as well as cooking classes to make nutritious meals on a limited budget.

No Kid Hungry has strong youth advocate programs that allow kids and teens to join the conversation against hunger. Kids and teens can be a member of Generation No Kid Hungry, a social network that connects youth to groups and resources to help them engage with an anti-hunger campaign. No Kid Hungry also has personal fundraiser tools where teams and youth groups can organize an event to raise money for food programs.

Stay tuned for next week’s showcase of another charity whose work inspires communities to help those in need. If you have any questions on how to start a fundraiser for a charity near you, feel free to contact us below!

Case Study: Helping Cheshire YMCA Raise Funds for Educational Tours

4 Aug

YMCALogoThe YMCA is a non-profit organization committed to bringing people together and mobilizing local communities for meaningful change. Popcorn Palace has been helping a few chapters of the YMCA raise money for important projects. We recently spoke with Kathy from Cheshire YMCA about her work with the Heritage Tours program, and how she has used Popcorn Palace fundraisers to help raise money for these educational and exciting youth trips.

Kathy has been volunteering with the YMCA for 14 years and running the Heritage Tour program for 7 years. The Heritage Tours make history alive for middle school students in surrounding areas. Kathy and other Heritage Tour leaders take the youth groups to important historical landmarks in order to show them the places they’re currently studying in their Social Studies classroom. The American Heritage Tour takes students to all of the historical sites in Philadelphia, PA, Washington D.C. and Gettysburg, PA. And the New England Heritage Tours visit a variety of locations in New England based on the student groups who attend.

Clearly the students are traveling to multiple historical sites in multiple locations, so they need to cover travel costs, but Kathy emphasized that there are additional costs.  “We want to learn about the kids,” she explained. “We want them to get to know us. So we meet for months prior, teach them about the places that we will go to, so they have a good idea about the history, honors, and respect of the sites.”

Kathy gave an example of the importance of setting the stage for the students.

On a spring tour to the Marine Corps War Memorial (the Iwo Jima Memorial), I had a small group of 8th graders with me, and while we were there, a group from the Honor Flight Program showed up. Honor Flight honors veterans who served in WW II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars by flying them up to see memorials built in their honor. Here they are, 90 year old veterans coming to see the memorial. Without even being prompted, our kids lined up and shook their hands. They knew what to do. It was very touching.

The New England heritage tour costs $500 per student, and the American Heritage Tour costs $900. There are some students whose parents pay for the program in full, but some of the kids have trouble financially. The Cheshire YMCA wants any student who wants to go to be able to go. They receive some funding from the community, and they also send kids home with packets about fundraising opportunities to give families a vehicle to earn the money themselves. Kathy says, “I prefer that a child has to work to earn a seat on the bus. I see a difference in the kids who helped work to come on the tour. They value it more.”

For some kids, this is the farthest they have ever gone in their life, and for other kids they are second generation to come through the program. It means a lot for everyone involved.

Students on a Heritage Tour with Cheshire YMCA

Students on a Heritage Tour with Cheshire YMCA

The Cheshire YMCA was introduced to Popcorn Palace fundraising a few years ago. They always try to offer a couple of different fundraising options, and they found the Popcorn Palace website as a potential opportunity. According to Kathy, they asked for a sample and loved the product. “Yum!” Her favorite flavor that we’ve offered is White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

The first time they ran the fundraiser, Kathy was a little more hands on to get used to the process, but now it runs really easily. They present the fundraiser to the kids and parents, send the orders out and get the popcorn back in boxes labelled with what is inside. She says, “It is a very simple process.”

Ultimately, kids that participate make a huge a dent in the cost of the tour. We here at Popcorn Palace are really happy that we’re helping kids participate in such an educational and fun opportunity. We look forward to working with Cheshire YMCA and similar programs in the future.

If you’re interested in more popcorn fundraising information, check out our Popcorn Palace fundraiser page. We’d love to hear from you.

Recognizing The Nature Conservancy

28 Jul

2179054732_fb1e5297d2_zThis summer, Popcorn Palace is recognizing amazing charities and fundraising efforts that are making an impact in their communities. This week, we are looking at The Nature Conservancy, an organization that emphasizes pragmatic scientific solutions to answer urgent bio-diverse issues!

The Nature Conservancy started as a small group of scientist with an interest in finding a way to use their ecological research to create positive environmental impact. Forming the Ecologist Union in 1946, they resolved to use their research and work with politicians and businesses to preserve threatened natural areas. The group later changed its name to The Nature Conservancy and grew to become the leader in nature preservation around the world.

Nature conservancy would not be possible without the heroic help of kind donors and passionate volunteers. One such hero was 13-year-old Dylan Bimka-Wintrob from Upstate New York who used his bar mitzvah to raise money to save the rare and elusive spirit bear in British Columbia, Canada. For his bar mitzvah, Dylan organized a presentation to talk about the endangered spirit bear and raised $867 dollars. This donation, along with many others, helped secure 19 million acres to be placed under strict land-use agreements to protect more than five million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest from commercial logging or extractive uses.

The Nature Conservancy’s work ranges from protecting the grasslands of North Australia to the marine parks across the Caribbean. They also guide preservation efforts through the use of intensive scientific research, partnering with indigenous communities, and non-confrontational solutions. They understood the key to land conservation was in using pragmatic science to bring a balance between extracting resources for human use and avoiding disruption within the natural landscape. The overall goal is to ensure the long term survival of all biodiversity on Earth by seeking solutions that will meet the needs of people as well as wildlife and ecosystems.

Effective conservation is achieved through the help of the people who live on those lands. Through The Nature Conservancy, indigenous peoples are positioned as conservation leaders to target urgent threats through securing land tenure and access, supporting indigenous rights and improving governance. For example, in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, four First Nation’s communities collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to create the Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) Community Initiative, a program that empowers young leaders to be stewards of their land.

Not only does The Nature Conservancy connect with the indigenous peoples, but they also help businesses, governments, and local organizations meet their resource conservation goals. The Nature Conservancy’s Amazon Program helped partner the Brazilian Government with indigenous peoples of the Amazon to create the country’s first ever National Policy on Territorial and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (PNGATI).

The Nature Conservancy works with youth to explore learning and volunteer opportunities. Nature.org has an interactive map that allows families and youth groups around the United States plan trips to state natural areas and wildlife sanctuaries. The Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program was founded in 1995 as an initiative to offer urban youth both career development and a hands-on environmental stewardship experience. Students take part in ecological research, restoration projects, and natural resource management. Since then, the LEAF program has activities in 28 states as well as a legacy of over 1,000 interns.

Next week, we’ll recognize another organization whose work is an inspiration for people to do good for their community. If you have any questions on how to find or start a fundraiser for an organization in need near you, please contact us below!

Recognizing The ASPCA

24 Jul

6461531797_fd5b913bdb_zThis summer, Popcorn Palace will recognize the work of amazing fundraisers and their charities. This week, we are looking at the ASPCA, an organization that stands against animal cruelty and builds support for pets and pet parents!

The Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has grown into one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the world with more than a million supporters across the country. Acting on the principle of defending the rights of at-risk animals, they’ve become a fore-front of animal rescue and health services in North America. Their mission is made possible through the involvement of pet parents and animal lovers. One such hero is Annika Glover, who at eleven-years old selflessly chose to help animals in need while battling Medulloblastoma.

Annika Glover suffered from Medulloblastoma, a rare and fast-growing brain tumor that jeopardized her health. She received comfort from the Make-A-Wish foundation with a wish, and despite her medical struggle, Annika used her one wish to donate $7,000 to the Pets Are Worth Saving (P.A.W.S.) animal rescue group in Florence, Alabama. Because of her courage and love for animals, the ASPCA presented Annika with the ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year. The ASPCA is also happy to report that Annika’s cancer is in remission!

Annika’s love stands as a testament to the compassion that pet parents and friends have for animals.  The ASCPA provides pet parents and friends with an extensive network of knowledge and resources for to help maintain the health of their pets. The organization connects pet parents to low-cost spay or neuter programs around the country, as well as an animal hospital equipped with emergency services in New York City.

In instances of animal cruelty, the ASPCA are first responders. The ASPCA Animal Forensic Services Team works with local law enforcement and other agencies to collect and analyze evidence to give conviction against puppy millers, animal hoarders, and animal fighters. The largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history was run by the ASPCA in 2009, spanning 8 states, 100 arrests, and the seizure of 500 dogs in one day.

Factory farming of animals has been an ongoing battle for the ASPCA, whose practices are cruel and the harm permanent. To curb factory farming and other acts of cruelty, the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Team assist local law enforcement and shelters with the rescue and medical treatment for those in need. Once the animals are saved and cared for, they are put up for adoption to a loving home.

The ASPCA team relies on the hard work of their volunteers and the kindness of their donors to help them continue their mission in servicing animals. The ASPCA has many programs that allow animal supporters to get involved in raising money to aid animals in need. Such programs include – donating your birthday, starting a memorial campaign, and creating a wedding page. These programs allow your community to get involved in the fundraising process for animals in need.

Next week, we will be highlighting another charity and the great work that they do for the community. If you have any questions on how to find or start a fundraiser for a charity near you, please contact us below!

Series: Honoring Those Who Make a Difference

15 Jul

Popcorn Palace is happy to announce that we are launching a weekly showcase series highlighting organizations that have made a difference! The showcase will be a 5-part series, presenting the remarkable work of non-profit organizations, what they are doing for their communities and the heroes who make it all possible.

Next week, we will showcase the work of the ASPCA – a nationwide organization dedicated to the rescue and treatment of animals and the support of pet parents. The ASPCA works with shelters to provide medical attention and assistance to animals in need. They are also active in pet training and pet care advice for pet parents.

Non-profit organizations empower the people of their communities to do great things for others. One such person is Annika Glover, a courageous eleven-year-old girl who despite suffering from Medulloblastoma sought the help of the Make-A-Wish foundation to gift $7,000 for animal rescue in Florence, Alabama. Annika’s love for animals is an inspiration to the ASPCA and animal lovers who hear her story. In 2014, Annika was awarded the Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year Award to honor her bravery.

This weekly series will feature a variety of non-profit organizations and will explore the impact that these charities have on the lives of those in need, as well as fun youth-led projects organized by the groups to help kids and teens get more involved in their communities. Getting youth involved in a project is a great way to teach compassion for others and the power of teamwork. It teaches youth about the needs of their community and the power they posses to make a difference.

Stay tuned for next week’s showcasing of the ASPCA and Annika Glover! We’ll have a new post about another exciting organization and their heroes, along with ways to get involved. See you all next week!

Celebrate Your Independence! With Fireworks Popcorn

2 Jul

On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with a day of festivities – often centered around fireworks and food!

Popcorn is the perfect snack for your outdoor activities – so why not sweeten up your parades, games, barbecues, and picnics with a delicious and nutritious treat?

This recipe for Fireworks Popcorn isn’t just a great snack for celebrating Independence Day, it also come with a little kick – a surprise popping sensation guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds!

Use Popcorn Palace’s gourmet popcorn as the base for this sweet treat, and you’ll experience an explosion of happiness which will last long after the fireworks have ended – and keep the kids talking about your 4th of July celebration for years to come!


You’ll need just a few ingredients to get started!

To prepare, line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Follow the directions on the package to heat your white chocolate, stirring frequently to make sure it melts evenly, and does not burn. While the chocolate is heating, pour the popcorn into a large mixing bowl, leaving plenty of room for stirring.

Once the chocolate has melted to a smooth consistency, pour it over the popcorn, using a rubber spatula to toss until the popcorn is evenly coated. Toss in one pack of PopRocks, and stir again. Then, spread your coated popcorn in an even layer on the pre-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle it with your remaining PopRocks, and then place the sheet in the freezer for 2-3 minutes (this will help your chocolate harden faster).

Remove from the freezer, and break into bite-sized chunks. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container until it’s time for your fireworks! (Please note – PopRocks will have the most popping power when this popcorn is fresh – so prepare it as close to the fun as possible!)

If you want to kick the fun up another notch, let the kids create their own popcorn bags, and decorate with fun red-white-and-blue designs, or 4th of July motifs.

No time for homemade treats? Simply order your gourmet tin from Popcorn Palace, and add some popcorn pizzazz with these DIY printable popcorn cones or these cute 4th of July-themed labels.

For more healthy snacking ideas for your 4th of July celebration, or to check out tips and tricks designed to make your summer fundraiser a hit, visit the rest of the Popcorn Palace blog!

5 Steps to Start Fundraising Today

26 Jun

Starting a fundraiser can be an intimidating task. It requires a lot of organization, creativity, resources, and planning to be successful. We’ve narrowed the process down into 5 easy steps that will pop life into your fundraising goals.

Step 1: Determine Your Fundraising Goals

A good place to start is with the end goal in mind. Ask yourself – how much money do I want to raise and how much time do I have to raise it? Raising $2,000 in 5 weeks is easier than raising $5,000 in 2 weeks. Understanding the answers to these two questions will give you the scope needed to organize your fundraising goals.

Step 2: Write a Simple Business Plan

To achieve your goals, you need a plan. Structure the business plan around your target audience. Consider who you’re asking funds from and why your fundraiser matters to them. Make note of your resources – such as time, materials, startup money, and helpers. Understanding your audiences and your resources will help you build the infrastructure needed to achieve your fundraising goals.

Step 3: Pick a Fundraiser

Connecting your target market to your goals makes the fundraiser happen. This is where you determine how you will be raising money. There are three types of fundraisers: Appeal Fundraising, Event Fundraising, and Product Fundraising. All three fundraisers are unique in their method of fundraising.

Appeal Fundraising is most beneficial when your target market is able to make large donations when you reach out to them. The costs of Appeal Fundraising are minimal and fundraising can start immediately. However, Appeal Fundraising can be difficult because you are asking for a donation without an exchange.

Event Fundraising can be a fun opportunity for the entire community. Money can be raised through participation in benefit concerts, walk-a-thons, talent shows, and dinner fundraisers. It’s important to consider the amount of resources needed in an Event Fundraiser. Upfront costs can vary dramatically and the amount of time needed to plan the event can take months.

Product Fundraising, like we do at Popcorn Palace, is the most predictable of the three types of fundraisers. Money is raised from the profits made on the sale of a product. Depending on the company you partner with or the product you are selling, upfront costs and preparation are minimal. We require no up-front costs, and our partners make 50% profit on each item.

Step 4: Make Contact and Start Organizing

After picking the type of fundraiser you want to do, contact organizations that you’d like to partner with for more information. Start organizing your team that will help you with the fundraiser. Gather your resources and start fundraising.

If you’re working with a school or youth organization, we’ve written a blog post containing resources and documents you’ll need to better manage your fundraiser. You can read about it here.

Step 5: Put the Fun in Fundraising

Don’t forget to have fun! Fundraising is a great way to unite a community for a good cause. Make the experience memorable for your community and it’ll bring smiles all around! If you need any help with fundraising ideas or advice, read our blog articles for helpful fundraising tips or contact Popcorn Palace today!

Resources and Documents for Better Popcorn Fundraising

18 Jun

Organizing and managing a successful fundraiser takes time and energy. We’ve collected a list of different documents that might help you along the way.

Permission Slips: If you’re working in a youth organization, making sure everyone is informed and onboard is essential. Have a clear and informative permission slip template that the participating children can take home to their parents. Parents can sign off and have all relevant information. You can also include helpful information for how parents can support their kids and the organization in general.

Fundraising Policies: If you’re an organization that needs to do fundraisers on a regular basis, then you need to draft fundraising policies, which would include best practices for management, accountability, and transparency. Your policies should include everything you’ve learned from your history of fundraising and very detailed information on your organization’s principles, solicitation rules, and use of fundraising funds—just to name a few. You can read through different fundraiser’s policy examples online to help you draft your own.

Direct Mail Fundraising Letter: We recommend that you also write a direct mail fundraising letter. They introduce your campaign and product to your relevant audience. What you write in the letter is really dependent on the type of fundraiser you are doing and who your audience is. We’ve written a more in-depth guide to the direct mail fundraising letter, and you can read more about it here on this blog post.

Posters: Successful fundraisers incorporate energetic and stylish announcements. Create a variety of different posters to post in your organization and in surrounding communities. If you’re doing a school fundraiser, put posters up in the classroom to inspire your students and put posters up throughout the entire school, so everyone knows about the fundraiser! You can also ask local stores, if they’d be willing to put up a poster in their business. Simple marketing can take your fundraisers to new levels!

Record keepers: If you’re doing a product oriented fundraiser, then you’ll definitely have all of your sales sheets. This is necessary to keep track of who orders what, so the right fundraising products can be delivered to the right people. Along with these sales sheets, you can use an overall record keeper to track your entire group’s sales. You can use very clean and practical record keepers (an easy excel spreadsheet can be ideal) or you can use a large, graphic oriented record keepers (like a poster) to inspire your organization with big visuals and interactive possibilities.

Thank you letters: Don’t forget to offer gratitude for everyone that helps make your fundraiser a success. Create thank you letters for the parents, community members, managers, and the participants themselves. Templates can help you, but putting a customized and personal touch to each letter can make them stand out.

What can fundraising teach you? One last thought… if you’re working with students then you can turn fundraising into helpful life lessons. You can create lessons about what fundraisers teach students—from financial lessons to goal setting and marketing. You can also ask your students to create their own fundraising documents about how they feel about the process and what they’ve learned.

Here at Popcorn Palace, we want to help you with all of your fundraising needs. If you want examples of fundraising documents that we send to organizations, please contact us. We’d love to help you on your fundraising journey.


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