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Hilton Head Island Middle School students have raised a lot of dough for their school -- by literally selling it.
The students, whose three-week sales period ended Sept. 15, currently are No. 1 in the country in cookie-dough fundraiser sales among about 1,100 elementary and middle schools, according to PTA officials at the local school. Hilton Head Middle School students have sold about 6,400 boxes of cookie dough, worth $95,000.
Of that amount, the school will receive more than $43,000. The PTA will use the money to host school dances, buy library books and provide teachers with money to buy items for their classrooms, among other things, PTA President Jan Davis-Vater said.
Although Hilton Head Middle School's sales have ended, other schools across the country are allowed to sell cookie dough until Dec. 1, meaning they still have time to catch up.
But having just narrowly missed second place last year, when the school sold about $80,000 in cookie dough, the students are confident they'll stay ahead of the competition.
Davis-Vater's son, Tommy, for one, not only sold more boxes of dough than he did last year as a seventh-grader, he sold more than anyone else in the school.
The 14-year-old sold the dough to about 100 relatives, friends and neighbors. He went around his neighborhood for about an hour after school each day for three weeks.
"It's something I like doing, and it goes to a good cause," Tommy said.
And this year's special prize for the top-seller was an additional incentive, he said.
That prize -- principal for a day -- was perhaps part of the reason the school's sales were so strong this year, Davis-Vater said.
Tommy will trade places with Principal Sherry DeSimone for one day. The second- and third-place sellers will do the same with assistant principals Buck Creighton and Mike Sanz. The five top sellers will have ice cream sundaes with the principal.
Sanz said he's excited to trade places with a student.
"I just hope there are not too many dramatic rule changes while they're in power," he said with a laugh.
Varsity Gold, the company that organizes the sales, also offers incentives of its own, including limousine rides to lunch at a restaurant and the chance to go to a school-hosted party.
The sixth grade sold $42,000 worth of the dough, while the seventh and eighth grades sold a total of $53,000.
The pre-portioned gourmet dough, available in eight flavors, comes frozen in boxes of 48 cookies each.
On Tuesday afternoon, students took home the cookie dough orders, which were delivered to the school in a refrigerated truck.
Parents volunteered to help unload the 6,400 boxes into two classrooms, where the treats could remain un-refrigerated for no more than 12 hours. The dough, if kept frozen, lasts for a year.
This is the third year the school has sold cookie dough.
Prior to that, students sold wrapping paper, Davis-Vater said. In the last year of wrapping paper sales, the school raised about $20,000, less than half of the projected total raised this year, she said.
Varsity Gold fundraising consultant Alisea Holt said cookie dough is now the most popular fundraising product her company offers.
Schools receive a percentage of the profits, based on their sales. The more dough a school sells, the higher the percentage it receives, Holt said.
Hilton Head Middle School will receive about 45 percent of the profit from the sales, she said.