Weather Forecast


Crew of 10 concocts nearly 1,100 popcorn balls to benefit local relief fund, Haiti victims

Amstar volunteer Vi Batterman of Parkston forms the popcorn balls Wednesday. Batterman, mother of Amstar Manager Brenda Mayer, has volunteered with her husband Norman making popcorn balls for the past two years, every Wednesday. (Laura Wehde/Republic Photo)

The sounds and smells of fresh popcorn wafted through the air at Amstar Wednesday morning as a crew of 10 workers and volunteers spent 10 hours creating 1,097 gooey popcorn balls in the name of charity.

Sold throughout the day for $1.50, the popcorn balls served as a fundraiser for the Dakota Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti and to also supplement the local disaster relief fund that was depleted after a rash of house fires earlier this year.

"It's just a very small thing we could do, just donating one day with some volunteer help," said Brenda Mayer, manager of the Mitchell Amstar. "We are very pleased. This is a wonderful thing."

The fundraising effort raised $883.

For the crew of 10, the day began at 7 a.m.

Mayer stirred large bowls of marsh- mallows, brown sugar and butter that were then passed down the assembly line and mixed with the popcorn. The concoction was formed into balls, wrapped and boxed.

The idea began late last week. Half of the money will be directly forwarded to aid in ongoing relief efforts following the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 150,000 and displaced as many as 1.5 million.

The other half of the proceeds will be used to help replenish the Red Cross' local disaster relief fund, which was depleted after three house fires in the immediate Mitchell area in December and early January.

Pre-orders kept rolling in until Wednesday.

"Two days ago, we were at 400 orders and within the last day we have escalated. ... Add that to what we will sell in the store and we are very easily looking at a goal of around 1,200 popcorn balls," Mayer said.

The crew started strong, averaging approximately 150 popcorn balls per hour. Red Cross volunteers loaded the popcorn balls into cars and delivered them to approximately 40 Mitchell businesses.

Dakota Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Jackie Horton was very pleased with the fundraising effort.

"We were honored that Amstar wanted to develop this partnership with us," Horton said. "It's been a great fundraising adventure with a little bit of work for the Red Cross and it's been a tremendous amount of work for Amstar and the people of Mitchell are being able to support (the effort) and get something for their support, so I think that makes a tremendous amount of difference."