People who have been craving a popcorn ball from the Tiffin Lions Club need not wait any longer. Volunteers have prepared the first batch of the annual treats.
Members of Tiffin and Old Fort Lions clubs, students at Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers and Calvert High School, and friends and family of volunteers prepared 8,132 balls Monday.
Monday was the first night for the annual task of making popcorn balls.
Jack Houck, co-chairman of the Lions Club's popcorn ball project with John Maddox, said it went "just great. Just great."
Houck was in high school in 1956 when the Lions Club's popcorn ball project was started by his neighbors.
Last year, volunteers made 73,152 balls, compared to 80,781 in 2008, 88,139 in 2007, 90,909 in 2006, 88,003 in 2005 and 89,133 in 2004.
"We'll be making in the neighborhood of 80,000 (balls this season)," he said.
Popcorn balls are sold around the community and also are given to the needy in the community through sharing kitchens, a food pantry and the fire department's toy drive. The club gives away 350-400 bags out of about 2,000 bags it prepares.
Alison Siesel, a senior in Sentinel's cosmetology program and at Seneca East High School, is serving as the chairwoman of the career center's SkillsUSA community service efforts. Helping make popcorn balls is one of the community service projects Sentinel students do annually to help the Lions Club, she said.
Sentinel students from every program can participate in the effort. Volunteers meet Mondays and Thursdays until early December to prepare the popcorn balls.
Monday, Siesel said she thought Sentinel had a good turnout for it being the first night of this year's project. She said she hoped more were going to turn out at future events.
"We did what we could," she said.
Siesel, who said the teamwork exhibited during Monday's session was indicative of everything people at Sentinel practice through the six pillars of character and its motto, helped with the project for the first time Monday and assisted with rolling the balls in paper.
"It's pretty fast-paced, too," she said. "They were throwing them out."
Sentinel's community service committee also is planning a pack-the-truck food collection as part of a poverty project and is trying to arrange a visit to a sharing kitchen once a week. In March, the career center is planning to have a fundraiser fish fry for the Lang family, who lost their home in a fire Easter Day.