In 2013, Jane Bishop Lillegard decided to step up her volunteering. Up to that point, she had helped support her sons’ activities like any other involved parent.
But that year, the Lakeview Coldwell Banker broker saw an unfulfilled need and shared some of the valuable lessons she learned during her own sales career with Boy Scout Troop #894. She became the “Popcorn Kernal,” organizing sales activities, ordering and distributing popcorn to the scouts and their parents.
“I filled a needed position as the Popcorn Kernal,” says Bishop Lillegard. “I wanted to do my part to help support my son’s troop. I attended training and had to project sales in advance before placing our orders. I coordinated times and places for our Boy Scouts to sell popcorn at the neighborhood Walgreens and Jewel as well as at Lincoln Square’s Apple Fest. I sent emails to parents to schedule times for the boys to sell at these locations. I controlled outgoing and incoming inventory and managed cash for those point-of-sale purchases. I placed and picked up orders for popcorn and distributed it to the boys.
“I inspired the boys to sell individually in person and online. I tried to help them overcome their fear of asking for sales by explaining that it’s a numbers game and advising them not to take it personally if someone says ‘no.’ They needed to realize they would have to get a few ‘no’s’ before they get a ‘yes.’”
At the end of the first campaign, the troop had sold more than $1,300 worth of popcorn.
Bishop Lillegard returned to the position in 2014, and the troop boosted its sales to a little more than $1,800. One of the reasons for the increase, she says, was offering the scouts the opportunity to increase the percentage of fundraising money they earned for the troop rather than offering incentive prizes to individuals. The money earned helped reduce out-of-pocket costs for families for the annual camping trip to Michigan.
Although she stepped away from the Popcorn Kernel position in 2015, Bishop Lillegard says she enjoyed all the hours she devoted to it. “I always enjoyed being out in Lincoln Square during the Apple Fest with the Boy Scouts. The popcorn helped pay the troop’s capital expenses as well as the cost of its annual summer camping trip. And at the end of each project, I was very proud to present the boys with their badges for selling popcorn.”
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