Monthly Archives: February 2013

Elon professor has ‘silent conversations’ with students, faculty

Ken Hassell (left) and junior Carolina Hood (right) participate in Hassell's performance art, titled "The Artist is Present." Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

Ken Hassell (left) and junior Carolina Hood (right) participate in Hassell’s performance art, titled “The Artist is Present.” Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

By Stephanie Butzer

In one of the large Lakeside Conference Rooms at Elon University, there is a simple arrangement: two chairs facing each other, an oriental rug and a plain sign asking for silence. Ken Hassell, associate professor of art, sits silently and motionless in one of the chairs with a blanket over his lap.

His eyes are closed until a visitor sits across from him. Then his performance begins. He looks directly into the eyes of the visitor until they leave.

For seven hours each day for three days, Hassell performed for the Art and Art History Department’s biennial faculty exhibition.

This meditative performance will open up different ways of experiencing another human being in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, Hassell said

“I was pretty nervous,” said senior student David Woods. “I sat down and my heart was pounding a little bit. We were staring at each other and he calmed me down. Even though there were no words you feel vey relaxed in there.”

The performance’s goal was to expel premeditated and definite ways of examining others.  Hassell said he hopes each individual interaction will help both parties to experience each other in a way that exceeds formulaic identity.

“My intention, in this context, is for the participants, the audience and the entire university to be a part of this process that might provoke conversations and insights into diversity and inclusiveness well beyond this performance and into the classroom and daily life,” Hassell said in a media release.

All Hassell asks of his visitors is for their silence during the “conversation”.

Ken Hassell and an Elon student silently converse in one of the new Lakeside Conference Rooms Feb. 26. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

Ken Hassell and an Elon student silently converse in one of the new Lakeside Conference Rooms Feb. 26. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

“I gave it a shot,” Woods said. “I’ve never done this before. It interested me to see how I feel and we saw other people do it. Some people were crying and laughing. But it was a good experience and I’ll probably never get to do it again.”

Hassell is re-fabricating an idea that originally came from Marina Abramovic’s performance art. She created the idea at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010 by sitting in a wooden chair for seven hours a day. Museum visitors were invited to sit across from her.

Hassell was quick to acknowledge that his presentation is very different from Abramovic’s. While she carried out her art in the MoMA, Hassell performed in the private university in North Carolina where there are many students, faculty members and staff.

In both Abramovic and Hassell’s performances, the participant and artist are on an equal level of power, understanding and inclusiveness. For each to work, there must be public involvement.

“I think that people underestimate how difficult it is to sit there and really be silent,” Woods said. “He has that self-control and strength it takes to sit there and just stare at someone and have no emotions. For that amount of time, it’s pretty hard.”

Osca Opoku, a freshman student, sat in the chair facing Hassell for almost twenty minutes.

“After a while I started to feel, and we had been pretty still for a while, like I might be looking in a mirror and he might be me,” Opouku said. “It sounds kind of crazy but its very interesting experience. I think you have to try it for yourself to see what you feel.”

At the end of the second day, Hassell said he felt exhausted. He had interacted with many students and faculty with a lot of down time in between visits. Some people stayed for less than a minute while others silently “conversed” with him for almost half an hour. He said those who stay longer tend to get more out of the experience.

“After a while, they transform,” Hassell said. “They become different. There’s something happening within themselves that allows their face to almost transform in some way and show something different about them. It’s just remarkable to me.”

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Review: ‘Lucid Nightmares’ aim to keep viewers up at night

The set of "Lucid Nightmares" made it very clear the play would attempt to invoke fear in its viewers. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

The set of “Lucid Nightmares” made it very clear the play would attempt to invoke fear in its viewers. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

By Stephanie Butzer

Under a full moon, it could have been Halloween at the Harold Acting Studio Monday evening. Cotton cobwebs, a fake skull and a buzzing black and white television decorated the front step. A hunched Frankenstein-like greeter grasping a three-tier candleholder led each individual or group in and directed them to a seat. This simple introduction confirmed the horror to come later in the play: “Lucid Nightmares” was not going to be an ordinary scare.

Four female seniors in the current Theatre Studies class, Sarah Beese, Elizabeth Floyd, Jayme Mantos and Ashley Meeks, wrote this play for class. It is the first fully developed play the group has ever produced.

The women found inspiration in Edgar Allen Poe’s work as they started writing the play. This deceased writer feasted on gothic horror and wrote some of the most disturbing pieces in American history.

Monday night was a full house. Audience members walked quickly inside the theater to find a seat in middle – a seat on the end of a row would surely mean they would have to interact with the horrors up close and personal. The room was foggy with dim lighting until the start of the play, when it went almost completely black.

Beese, clothed in black and holding a small candle, entered the stage first. Before exiting the stage, she warned the audience to guard their souls.

“Lucid Nightmares” was split into three parts. Each performance challenged the insanity of its characters. The title of the play itself questioned the reality of each scene. While some sections appeared realistic, others seemed more dreamlike.

The playwrights knew when the audience would feel calm because as soon as the tension started to die down, something would happen – a suffocation, a confession or a fantastical change – and viewers would be gripping their seats again.

The women also knew how to include precise and intriguing details to disturb the audience, such as an old woman’s obsession with a dead youth’s teeth. The playwrights were also perceptive of how to successfully portray two different scenes at the same time and have their viewers understand what had happened.

The second section of the play started after a somewhat unorganized and lengthy blackout. The Harold Studio presented other difficulties for the cast and crew. The platforms the performers walked across were exceptionally squeaky, which sometimes was favorable since the effect created additional anxiety. However, when it became difficult to hear the performers speak, it was easy to lose track of what was happening.

Aside from minor technical flaws like microphone static and fog machines’ sputters, “Lucid Nightmares” was a remarkably well-done play in an industry where horror is rarely experimented or attempted.

Video by Elon University seniors Merissa Blitz and Ryan Maas.

Conservators’ Center remembers beloved, playful lioness

Sadie explores the snow in her large enclosure. Photo by Chariot Creative.

Sadie explores the snow in her large enclosure. Photo by Chariot Creative.

By Stephanie Butzer

The Conservators’ Center in Burlington said goodbye to Sadie, one of its beloved lionesses, Jan. 6 after her long fight with a cancerous tumor on her chin. She had to leave her pridemates and caretakers behind, but the impact this 450-pound cat made will not disappear anytime soon.

Sadie came to the Conservators’ Center, a nonprofit organization which combines education and living exotic animals, under bad circumstances.

In 2004, the two co-founders of the Center, Mindy Stinner and Douglas Evans, received a phone call from a government agency explaining a large confiscation at a neglectful facility in Ohio.

The owner of the facility had been in the business for 30 years but it had recently gone downhill – an animal killed one of his children and another mauled his grandchild. The animals were not given proper food or clean water and were housed in undersized cages with species they were not compatible with.

The government agency was looking for homes for the animals before the confiscation occurred so they could be rescued. With more than 900 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, it was difficult for Stinner and Evans to say no.

“It sounds like a huge number of violations, and it is,” Evans said. “The Federal Agency responsible for monitoring those things has an incredibly tough job.”

They negotiated to accept one enclosure-worth of big cats. If the Conservators’ Center could stabilize the remaining animals, another facility offered to take them after they had finished building habitats on their land. They even offered to pay for the cages at the Center. Stinner and Evans agreed to take in all of the animals – 14 lions and tigers, including Sadie.

“We felt like we were going to be floundering around a little bit,” Stinner said.

A few days later, the other facility closed and the Center found itself with more cats than they had signed up for. But because the animals would probably have been euthanized if sent elsewhere, Stinner and Douglas agreed to revamp their business plan and take into account the new lion and tiger numbers.

“However much it set us back … it cost us enormous work and money and stress,” Evans said. “All of them that came here have come back from the brink of disaster.”

Sadie arrived with three other members of her pride: Mufasa, Ugmo and Kiara. The Center was comfortable taking in the tigers from the confiscation because they had experience with them, but the Center knew little beyond practical care for the lions. Keepers were unfamiliar with lions’ personalities and emotional needs.

“It takes years to learn how to interact with these animals safely,” Evans said. “It takes years to know how to construct an enclosure or even a den that is adequate for the animal.”

The big cats were transported from Ohio to North Carolina in small transport cages in a large enclosed truck. The males were especially upset about the close quarters, Stinner said. 

When the truck arrived at the Center, Sadie was the first to jump out of her cage and into her new home: a 60-foot long enclosure with a den box, trees – which the lions had never seen before – and plenty of room to play. It was three times larger than any cage Sadie had ever known, even though the Center still considered it small for four big cats. While they were lucky enough to have some sponsors cover the cost to build a larger enclosure, Sadie did not seem disappointed with the original cage. 

“She bounced off the walls,” Stinner said. “She was so excited she ran around in the grass and rolled and sniffed everything and smelled the trees.”

Ugmo, an older lioness, followed Sadie out of the truck. The Center automatically noticed the friendship between the lions. They speculated Ugmo may have been her older sister.

Toward the end of the day, Evans visited the lions to see how they had calmed down and adjusted to the new environment.

“Sadie came right up to Doug and looked at him,” Stinner said. “She put her chin up on the fence and rubbed her cheek a little bit and closed her eyes. So, he scratched under her chin a little bit.”

The lion sighed heavily.

“That was it,” Stinner said. “Sadie wanted chin rubs from everybody she could get one from after that. Of course, that’s right next to teeth. So you have to be very careful when you’re doing that.”

Most of the other lions were just as affectionate. They had been hand-raised by people and were used to human interaction. The Center quickly learned Sadie was an extremely expressive animal.

“The biggest threat we had with her was that when she would come to the fence she would just fling her whole body against it with all of her weight which meant if you weren’t really paying attention and you had your hands anywhere near the mesh, she could have easily crushed fingers – just being affectionate,” Stinner said.

But the rescue didn’t come without its fair share of hardships.

A lion named Tabitha came into the Center with an untreated and aggressive type of terminal cancer. She had to be put her down almost immediately.

“That’s the sad part of that whole rescue,” Evans said. “We brought this cat in and we had her evaluated even though we both knew. Within the week, we had to have her euthanized.”

Sadie gives birth  

Within the big cats’ first few weeks the Conservators’ Center, the vets discovered four of them had either come to the Center pregnant or became pregnant soon after arrival. Sadie was one of them.

Because of this unforeseen circumstance, the Center went from owning three big cats to more than 30 in just four months. Sadie’s birthing is a particularly sentimental memory for Evans.

“It was quite, quite exciting, which is something we don’t look forward to here,” Evans said.

Oct. 18, 2004 turned out to be a very exciting day for them.

Sadie’s pride’s enclosure was built so portions could be sectioned off in case keepers needed to isolate an animal for occasions like medical checkups or births.

Sadie delivered her cubs in a mud puddle behind the den box on a rainy, cold day. Stinner and Evans were present, as were other keepers and volunteers. The other lions were moved into a separate part of the enclosure. Meanwhile, four white newborn cubs struggled in the mud. Stinner and Evans monitored the situation, hoping Sadie would know what to do.

Luckily, the babies nursed from Sadie for a short time.

“Our policy is to leave them on the mom if we can for at least a couple of weeks to get the colostrum from the mother’s milk, which we can’t really reproduce yet,” Evans said.

But Sadie had never raised cubs before and Evans said she stared at him and the keepers as if asking for help. The keepers put a tarp over that specific part of the enclosure to help decrease the cold rainfall on the delicate babies.

When it was clear the cubs would die without human involvement, Stinner cut a small hole in the fence and was able to get two cubs, later named Adeena and Ra, out of the enclosure. The remaining babies had wiggled under the den box and out of Stinner’s reach.

There was only one way to rescue the other cubs. Evans went into the enclosure with Sadie and started looking for the cubs.

“As big as lions look when you’re outside the cage, they grow exponentially when you go in the cage with them,” Evans said.

Stinner and the other volunteers started feeding Sadie chicken quarters, one of her favorite treats, through the fence to keep her distracted and incurious about Evans. Regardless of the diversion, Sadie alternated between eating what Stinner offered to her and going into the den box and stomping, as if saying the cubs were under that spot, Evans said.

Sadie left behind a precious legacy in her four children at the Conservators’ Center: Thomas, Ra, Willow, and Adeena. Photo by Chariot Creative

Sadie left behind a precious legacy in her four children at the Conservators’ Center: Thomas, Ra, Willow, and Adeena. Photo by Chariot Creative

Finally, Evans found one of the cubs, which they would later name Thomas. He carefully showed him to Sadie, who gave the cub a lick and turned away, before passing Thomas to Stinner.

After two hours, Sadie had eaten 70 pounds of chicken quarters, venison and hamburger meat and there was no sign of the fourth cub.

“I was ready to call it, to say, ‘this is over now,’” Evans said. “But I just couldn’t. So I laid back down.”

The other lions, who were in the portion of the enclosure unprotected from the rainy weather, began complaining.

“There is nothing more cranky than a male lion whose mane is plastered to his head from rain,” Stinner said.

Evans had both arms under the den box. This put him in an extremely vulnerable position.

“I was at the corner of the den box and Sadie was inside and pawing,” Evans said. “Then I don’t hear the pawing anymore. The hair on the back of my neck goes up. I look up and there is Sadie, breathing on the back of my neck. Her mouth is open and she is looking where I am looking and looking at me. From that perspective, her teeth were three, four feet long.”

Sadie went back to pawing in the den box and Evans wiggled further under the den box. Then he saw what he had been looking for.

“Little white ears come up and then a face and the little eyes that are still closed,” Evans said of Willow, the final cub. “I was able to reach and pull her and get her out.”

Evans showed Willow to Sadie. The lioness snorted at her cub and, exhausted from consuming an excess of food, laid down in the den box. Once Evans was out of the enclosure, the other lions were let back in, and with huffs and puffs, disappeared in the den box.

A lioness’ game 

There are many memories of Sadie but there was one specific habit both Evans and Janine Tokarczyk, the director of animal care, fondly remember.

The first time Sadie played her “game” with Evans, he jumped in fright, which had not happened in a very time long, he said.

Evans had put food in the pride’s enclosure when Sadie jumped up from behind the den box and landed heavily on top it.

“She was an enormous lioness and she thought that was the funniest thing in the world,” Evans said. “Sometimes she was so excited about having her little ritual done that she wouldn’t even care about the food for five minutes.”

From then on, once Sadie saw food coming, she ran behind the den box and jumped on top when a caretaker was nearby. Evans said she would not only leap onto the top of the box, but she would bounce and twirl on all four feet.

“The funny thing is it wasn’t any aggressiveness,” said Tokarczyk. “It was literally like a kid going, ‘oh, you found me.’”

Discovering Sadie’s disease 

Ugmo and Sadie had always been close, but in August 2012, the staff noticed Ugmo was spending more time grooming Sadie than ever before. After looking closely through the fence, they noticed a small black dot under Sadie’s chin, right in the center of her jaw. Vets said it might be an abscising tooth. The staff also made speculations about if something was lodged in that area, since Sadie liked to rub her chin on everything to scent-mark.

“There were a number of things it could have been, however it was the worst it could possibly be,” Evans said.

The Center’ staff kept an eye on the spot. A dental procedure for a big cat was a large and dangerous ordeal for both parties. However, after some time, they decided to call in a vet, who did not like the look of the bump. They decided to sedate her through hand injection through the fence to take a closer look.

The keepers of the Conservators’ Center try to have a hands-on relationship with the animals so they can safely tend to them from the outside of the enclosure.

“Our folks are able to have the relationship with the animals that allows them to notice things, that allows them to get hands-on when they have to and do it safely,” said Mandy Matson, communications director. “That’s the value.”

Sadie fell asleep very quickly after the injection, which was not a good signal and indicated a possible problem, Stinner said.

Sadie’s Lifetime Adopter, Kate DeBruin, was able to stand outside the enclosure while the vet worked on Sadie. DeBruin decided to “adopt” Sadie to become more involved and form a personal connection with the lioness.

“You come and visit the animal and they get to know you,” DeBruin said about her role’s function. “They recognize when you’re there and they get something out of it – their person has come to see them.”

DeBruin “adopted” Sadie in February 2011, long before she was diagnosed with cancer. While Sadie was sedated, the keepers allowed DeBruin to pet her for a few seconds.

Sadie relaxes after her first surgery. The black spot on her chin is visible. Photo submitted.

Sadie relaxes after her first surgery. The black spot on her chin is visible. Photo submitted.

After an inspection, the vet said the spot was a mass and wanted to remove it. The lump was sent to a lab where researchers confirmed it was cancerous and had already become a systemic issue.

Sadie had limited time.

The mass came back quickly and aggressively. However, the spot was not painful for the lioness. While Sadie underwent different treatments and medicines, she remained her happy-go-lucky self.

“You would never have thought that the situation she used to be in she ever had experienced,” Tokarczyk said. “I honestly think she just wanted to make everyone happy.”

Near the end of her life, the vets advised putting a powder on Sadie’s tumor to stop the bleeding and oozing. The caretakers called this “Sadie’s makeup” because they applied it with a brush. The lioness would even lift her chin and help direct the keepers to where the medication should be administered.

“When they really know you and trust you and love you, they will show you what’s wrong,” Stinner said. “But they have to really feel good about you.”

When Sadie’s vets said she needed stitches under her chin and the keepers would have to remove them in a few days, Tokarczyk laughed.

“If you had told me, for most of the animals, ‘go take stitches out of their chins,’ I would be like, ‘ha, yeah, good luck on that one,’” she said.

But Sadie reacted the same as when her keepers applied her makeup – she stretched her chin against the cage walls and showed the people where the stitches were.

While the keepers and other staff provided the best care they could for Sadie, Ugmo did her part as well.

“What was very touching to us was watching Ugmo tend to Sadie until the end of her life,” said Matson. “She would not leave her side. It was really, really sweet.”

Saying final goodbyes

Sadie fought for a long time, Stinner said. She stayed alive and happy a lot longer after her diagnosis than the Center’s staff expected.

“She was behaving normally,” DeBruin said. “She was eating. She was her normal everyday happy self. She really seemed absolutely fine until the first of the year.”

A few days after New Year’s Day, Sadie had trouble getting up and eating. It was clear she was starting to become uncomfortable.

“We just made sure she had really good bedding and we gave her that evening to spend time with Ugmo and the two of them cuddled,” Stinner said.

The next morning, the vet came out. Many people who cared for Sadie, including DeBruin, also came to the Center.

“She’s a good girl and a lot of folks helped us make sure she had a good end,” Stinner said. “I really appreciate that.”

Evans and Stinner sedated Sadie themselves before allowing the vet, keepers and others who had spent a lot of time with her into the enclosure.

Sadie enjoyed basking in the sun with her dear friend, Ugmo (right). Their unique relationship taught us the depth of love lions have for their pridemates. Photo by Chariot Creative

Sadie enjoyed basking in the sun with her dear friend, Ugmo (right). Their unique relationship taught us the depth of love lions have for their pridemates. Photo by Chariot Creative

Throughout the whole ordeal, Sadie was calm. Ugmo, who was sectioned off with the other lions, was also calmly watching. The keepers allowed DeBruin to pet Sadie goodbye. As soon as the vet gave Sadie the first injection, Ugmo laid down.

After Sadie had passed, the staff members removed her from the enclosure and brought her body along the other lion cages so they could see she was gone.

“She [Ugmo] went over and stretched out in the straw that she and Sadie had shared and just went, thunk, and took a nap and didn’t wake up for almost 24 hours,” Stinner said. “She just crashed. She had been care-giving for so long.”

Holding memories close

The Conservators’ Center remembers Sadie as a lion who was willing to do anything for the people she interacted with. There are countless happy memories they all hold close.

“She was always fun, all the way up to the end, when she was very sick,” Evans said. “She would make the effort to come over and visit. I miss her terribly. The pride is not the same without her.”

DeBruin compared loosing Sadie to loosing somebody’s first love or first house-pet.

“She was my first lion so I think she will always have a special place in my heart,” she said. “She’s going to have an extra special spot there.”

Tokarczyk, who is constantly on the grounds, said it was weird to not see Sadie bounce on top of the den box. If she wasn’t a lion, she would be a lapdog, Tokarczyk said.

Sadie was often used to educate visitors about lions because she was good-natured. She was also an educator for the staff because she was willing to try new things with those she trusted. She helped teach her people how to train her.

“I knew she would teach them the right way to do things and she had no ill-intention towards anyone,” Tokarczyk said. “She left a huge hole here. The animals and the people all miss her.”

Sadie was a senior female, so she would often start a call around the Center’s grounds, called an “oof.” Other lions and animals would answer until the air was booming with commotion and after a few rounds, the Center quieted back down. There is still a large void down in the part of facility where Sadie lived with her pridemates, Stinner said. The other lionesses in Sadie’s pride have not stepped up yet.

Thomas and Ra, two of Sadie's cubs, are now eight years old. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

Thomas and Ra, two of Sadie’s cubs, are now eight years old. Photo by Stephanie Butzer.

Sadie’s four babies, who are now eight years old, remain at the Center. They were hand-raised by the keepers, but Sadie was able to watch them and her grandchildren grow up. She was constantly surrounded by her family and friends.

“[The keepers] want to make sure the animal is still having a good quality of life,” DeBruin said. “And she was.”

Sadie’s life improved dramatically when she came to North Carolina and she helped fulfill the Center’s goal: to change people’s perceptions about the natural world, its ecosystems and to respect Earth’s many diverse organisms.

Her life was full and happy, Stinner said. Her death was expected, but it was also peaceful.

“She absolutely had the most wonderful kind of ending,” Evans said. “It’s the kind of thing people hope for, that all of their family and all of their friends come to see them. She passed gently. She was ready.”

Woman comes out of retirement to take over flower shop

Pat's Flowers & Gifts' new owner, Carol Wilson, came out of retirement to purchase and run the store at 111 E. Main Street in Gibsonville. Photo by Sam Roberts, The Times-News.

Pat’s Flowers & Gifts’ new owner, Carol Wilson, came out of retirement to purchase and run the store at 111 E. Main Street in Gibsonville. Photo by Sam Roberts, The Times-News.

Pat Lewis owned Pat’s Flowers & Gifts for 42 years before she put a note on the store’s front door saying she was retiring and would no longer own the shop.

Meanwhile, Carol Wilson, who lives in Graham with her husband, came to Gibsonville to see the lighting of the tree for Christmas, as they have done for the past couple of years. They were walking around the town when they found Pat’s Flowers & Gifts and saw Lewis’ note.

The next day, Wilson came back with her husband to eat pizza at a local pizza parlor. When Lewis pulled up to Pat’s Flowers & Gifts, Wilson approached her and asked if somebody had bought the shop. Lewis said no but asked if Wilson would be interested.

“I looked down and said I was just asking a question,” Wilson said. “She said, ‘come on in here and let’s sit down a talk.’ So, I came in and we sat down and talked and she told me what she was doing and told me all about the store. I left her and told her I would think about it.”

Wilson talked it over with her husband and decided buying the shop was something she wanted to undertake.

Previously, Wilson had spent 42 years working as a department head of radiology and had retired after working at the Alamance Regional Medical Center. After a hectic and stressful career, Wilson said she hoped her retirement plan would involve volunteering or working in a flower shop.

“When I retired, I needed to do so many things at home that I had not done and then my husband and I would travel and its been five years since I retired and six years since he retired,” Wilson said. “When this became available I thought, ‘you know, I really would like to get back out with people and I think this is something I would really enjoy.’”

On Jan. 1, 2013, Wilson bought Pat’s Flowers & Gifts and became the new owner. Two flower designers, each with over 25 years of experience, work in the store with her. Lewis will continue her involvement as a consultant.

Sharon Clark is one of the designers who worked with both women. She has a degree in floral couture and 28 years of experience in the field.

“When I worked for Ms. Lewis, I was new in the gang so it was a prime opportunity for her to show me what knowledge she could teach me,” Clark said. “It was very valuable at that time for me to work under her and learn everyday floral design.”

She said she enjoys working for Wilson, as well, especially because the tables have changed.

“I’ve been really fortunate to work with some wonderful designers over the years that have taught me things that I could have never learned in a book,” Clark said. “It was hands-on. Now, I get to pass this on to Ms. Wilson.”

Wilson said she is happy she could come out of retirement to take over Lewis’ flower shop. The two women’s love for flowers has kept the store running.

Cookie season: Girl Scouts prepped for annual sale

By Stephanie Butzer

Fifty-one Girl Scout troops in Alamance County passed out boxes of Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties and Caramel deLites on Friday, also known as National Girl Scout Cookie Day.

Adult volunteers and young girls gathered at a donated warehouse in Burlington to organize and set up delivery orders of more than 59,544 boxes of cookies.

This number is a little higher than in past years, said Jill Guthrie, product specialist for Service Unit 157.

Maddie Cobb stacks boxes of girl scout cookies onto a palette in Haw River on Friday. Photo by Andrew Krech, Times-News.

Maddie Cobb stacks boxes of girl scout cookies onto a palette in Haw River on Friday. Photo by Andrew Krech, Times-News.

“This is just our beginning,” Guthrie said of the increasing numbers. “It’s our initial setup.”

Guthrie is responsible for coordinating information for these cookie sales. She also helps bring the cookies to the troops and ensures troop leaders have and understand the ordering sheets.

“It’s an exciting and fun time of year,” Guthrie said. “The girls get out and meet the public, learn the skills of communicating and money management. It really gets Girl Scouts out there and gets people aware that we are here. I love to do this sort of thing.”

Nicole Enoch is the Service Unit 157 specialist and cookie cupboards coordinator. As the Service Unit Director, Enoch helps manage over the troops in the county, keeps tabs on their resources and ensures the troops interact with each other to experience the full Girl Scout practice. As the cookie cupboards coordinator, her house serves as a storage unit for extra cookies.

On Friday morning, shipment trucks packed tight with boxes of cookies arrived as two deliveries at the warehouse, where volunteers unloaded them. What used to be taxing physical work has become much easier this year.

“We have access to forklifts,” Enoch said. “In the past years, we have had to manually get the cookies off the truck. This year it will cut back on manpower and the time that it takes.”

The warehouse was not the only place the boxes will be delivered. Enoch’s own home will bring in 1,200 boxes.

On Saturday, Girl Scouts around the county set up booths at popular stores such as Old Navy, Food Lion and Five Below to sell cookies to customers. Enoch said this time of year is cookie season for the girls, but it is also much more.

“It’s a chance that they get to really put skills into place as far as being entrepreneurs and public speaking and managing money,” Enoch said.

Girl Scouts logoGuthrie and Enoch are leaders in a troop. Guthrie leads a troop of Daisies, age kindergarten through first grade, and some Brownies, aged second grade through fourth grade. Enoch is in charge of multi-level troop, consisting of all ages between Daisy and Cadettes, grades 6 through 8.

Girl Scouts is the largest girl-led business in the country. The organization has been encouraging young girls to develop important life skills since the early 1900s.

Click for story on The Times-News’ website.