There’s a time in every parent’s life when keeping your mouth shut and a smile on your face just makes sense.
Brian and Cheryl Cartwright faced this time last fall when their seven year old son came running in from his Beaver Pack meeting at the church hall in Coldwater.
Denham Cartwright was a foot off the ground with excitement. His Beaver colony was going to sell popcorn and all the money it raised would be spent on activities and equipment for the whole pack of 11 boys. The fundraiser was one of several that occur, and in many cases, sales are fuelled by parents who take order forms to work and lug in bundles of cheese or chocolate bars to make up the quota.
Not with Denham Cartwright. His serious face announced his goal. “I’m going to sell enough popcorn to make $2,000 for my group,” he announced.
His parents did the math… at an average of $20 an order per family, Denham was looking at reaching–and convincing–over 100 families. In Coldwater and Moonstone.
Denham’s parents listened as their youngest son developed his plan. He took the single sheet form he’d been given, counting the lines to see that it would accommodate orders from 25 people. He would need many more forms than this, but this would do to begin.
He looked over two brochures… one which described the different kinds of popcorn that people could buy, and one with all the prizes a boy could earn by selling certain quantities. The dream was fanned into a roaring fire.
He sat and developed his script. Denham told me this week that he dressed in his Beaver uniform, and walked up to the door, holding his brochure that described a product selection. Popcorn kernels to pop the old-fashioned way. Microwave popcorn. Popcorn in little tins, coated with caramel and baked with nuts. Or, really big tins, with two or three kinds of popcorn. People could put a smile on Denham’s face by spending as little as $8 or as much as $50.
“Hello. My name is Denham and I am raising money for Beavers. Would you like to help me win a great prize by buying some delicious popcorn?”
Would they? Of course, they would! “They would say they’d be happy to,” Denham reported. “They were all very nice. A couple of people said no, but they were older. Most people said yes.”
His dad would stand back on the sidewalk, tucked away so he couldn’t be seen. He wanted to not only ensure his son’s safety, but he wanted to be able to help when the sale was made and the financial transaction had to occur. All sales were pre-paid, you see.
It didn’t take long before the first sheet was full. They went back for a second. And a third. And then Denham’s dad just photocopied them. Denham filled eight sheets in all… 200 orders. Denham sold $2,200 worth of popcorn!
Father and son walked and drove the route again as Denham delivered the popcorn orders, complete with a little Scouting thank you card.
“My Beaver leader was really surprised,” says Denham. “Our whole colony raised $5000. 11 boys. $5000. Denham brought in $2,200 of that.
“How did you feel?” I asked him. “Feel?” he responded. “I felt kind of nervous cause they’d draw a card and you’d win a prize. I felt happy and excited to show them what I had done.” Denham likes being in Beavers and Cubs… he enjoys the games, he likes to meet new people, to earn badges, to go to camp, to get to sell popcorn.
He decided to take his prize as 200 Scout dollars so he could select what he wanted from the Boy Scouts store. He chose a set of binoculars, a kit that has a compass, a mirror and a magnifying glass. He chose yellow. He has used them a lot.
And, he chose a poncho to hold all his Beaver and Cub badges. He swam up to Cubs this year and is earning badges to fill his poncho.
Now a grade 3 student at Moonstone Elementary School is looking eagerly to this year’s fundraising effort. “Oh, of course I’ll do this again. I’ll sell popcorn again!”
What a fitting tribute to Scouting’s 100th anniversary. Sir Baden Powell would be proud.
I have a hunch that young Denham is at the beginning of an incredible life. His enthusiasm is boundless and his parents are wise enough to celebrate that! The power of earning your just rewards!