Kerrie Hodges, who is well-known as the popcorn lady among the students of Hainerberg Elementary School, is the official popcorn chair of the Parent Teacher Organization. The former captain in the adjutant general corps is responsible for Popcorn Friday, a fundraising event that is much appreciated by the children. Once a month, on a Friday, students who have been signed up by their parents, receive a popcorn bag. They pay 10 dollars for the school year.
It sounds like an easy task, but actually requires a lot of work. Usually on a Monday or a Tuesday, Hodges goes to the Commissary to buy the supplies—popcorn, oil and bags; then she picks up the class lists with the kids’ names, and figures out who will receive popcorn—usually around 600 students. On Thursday morning, she pops half of the corn, and prepares everything for the other volunteers who will come in the next day. This takes her about four hours. On Friday morning, she pops the other half, and volunteers from the PTO and the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade fill the popcorn bags, and take them to the classrooms.
“My favorite thing is the kids, because they get the most excited about it,” Hodges said, “and every time I walk through the school, half of the kids know me there: ‘It’s the popcorn lady!’”
Hodges, who met her husband in 2004 in Wiesbaden and got engaged in Iraq, dropped out of the Army when she and her husband decided to have a Family. She has two kids now who find it very exciting that they know the secret specials of Popcorn Friday in advance, Hodges said, such as green popcorn for St. Patrick’s Day, for example.
The money earned with Popcorn Friday benefits the school. The PTO pays the movie license for the school, acquires computer programs, buys T-shirts for field days and funds projects such as excursions to the movie theater. Recently the first grade and Spanish immersion classes went to see “Ferdinand” after reading the book of the same name. The PTO also bought caterpillars to have the students watch them turn into butterflies.
“It’s a lot of fun. I just enjoy doing it,” Hodges said. The kids are happy about it, and Popcorn Friday makes a lot of money for the school, she added.
This is Part 3 of a series highlighting volunteers in the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community.