Archive | August, 2015

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.