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Easter bunny had competition distributing chocolate this week

Earl Kelly was a chocolate-selling machine after setting up shop outside an Elmira store. [Veronica Reiner]

Lincoln Heights PS student Earl Kelly is celebrating sweet success after achieving the goal of selling 30 boxes of chocolate as part of his school’s fundraising drive, most of them outside the Food Basics grocery store in Elmira earlier this week.

“My mom gave me the idea,” said Earl of the inspiration behind the initiative. “It’s a whole lot of fun.”

The money will go towards a new time clock in the school’s gym.

“Earl is unbelievable,” said chocolate fundraiser volunteer Brenda Guse. “It’s very amazing. They know that when they sell a box of chocolate, they raise $90, but then the product has to be paid for. So it doesn’t work out to be that much, of course. Earl himself would have raised some $1,200. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen a kid do that many – I’ve seen kids do a lot, but never that amount.”

As of Monday, Kelly has sold 24 boxes of Laura Secord chocolate to passersby, with an ultimate goal of 30 boxes. He achieved that goal which, not including the cost of the box, would have raised $2,700. He has a full kiosk set up, featuring signs explaining the purposes of the initiative along with types of chocolate – including caramel, mint, milk, raisins and assorted, priced at $3 apiece.

He sells these chocolates under the watchful eye of his father, Dave Kelly. Dave said it was Earl’s genuine enjoyment for doing so that kept things rolling smoothly.

“We went out on the weekend, and we sold them all. He said ‘I like this. Can I do some more?’ I said ‘sure,’ so I sent word back to the school, and they started sending the chocolates home,” said Dave on Monday. “And he said ‘You know something,dad? I want to go for 30 cases.’ And right now he’s almost at 25, all by himself.

“He’s doing really well. The top seller in his school he is.”

The chocolate fundraiser is an ongoing tradition at Lincoln Heights PS. The top sellers are awarded various prizes – each first-, second- and third-place, and five participation prizes were awarded with a stuffed animal. First received a $150 gift card, second was awarded a $100 gift card, and third got a $50 gift card.

“We’re very proud of Earl with all that he did this year at the school,” said Guse. “I never knew him before but I got to know him during the time of the chocolate campaign, and he did an amazing job.”

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