Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fundraising

Today Kevin brought home a large box of chocolate covered almonds to sell for fundraising. Chocolate? Right after Halloween? Isn't the mountain of it in the largest bowl in our house, not to mention the leftovers from our stash enough? Fortunately we don't have another 175 bags of chips left over, but instead a respectable amount of chocolate bars that should last what...a few days?

What do you think about fundraising? Hate it? Enjoy it? My fund raising enthusiasm depends on where the money is going, the item being sold, and how much work it is for me and my child. Chocolate covered almonds are low fuss-take them to my staff room, and people inevitably will buy some. I have even volunteered to organize and sell little LED flashy pin thingys at the upcoming craft fair, since I'll be there selling cookies anyway. It's pretty low fuss, easy stuff. Kevin's school does a cheesecake cafe at Christmas that is fantastic, and a spring carnival that we always go and drop lots of money at. They are fun, social events where we happily donate lots of cash.

Then you get the fundraisers that I hate. The ones that I won't touch and the minute the flyer or catalogue comes home, it goes in the garbage. They are the fundraising programs that use prizes for the kids as carrots, promising them dollar store items in exchange for selling the most. These leave me with a sick feeling, and here is why.

Many years ago pre-children, I worked in an elementary school that was beginning a fund raiser with a company such as this. They gathered all the children in the gym and worked that crowd like a pep rally, with the overall theme being, "SELL, SELL, SELL!" and if you SELL SELL SELL you can win this fantastic dollar store TOY! The crowd cheered. Oh, but it got better. The toys got progressively better, until finally the grand prize-a brand new bike. The kids were red faced, cheering, and screaming. They were so pumped that all 600 of the little guys wanted to go out there and accost any innocent passerby and demand that they buy whatever it was they were selling. There was a cool bike at stake, after all.

At the time it disturbed me somewhat. Wasn't this wrong? I mean...these are kids after all, they don't really understand the dynamics involved. There was something about waving the items and getting the kids so excited, then sending them home that made me cringe. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, until I had kids of my own. At that point I realized that my kid wanted that dollar store toy more then anything, but could not go out and sell anything on his own. He couldn't even cross the street. A carrot had been waved in front of my child to basically blackmail me into selling products. THAT, my friend, is what I resent, and so I refuse to buy anything from any program that does such a thing. The kids should reap the benefits of selling by going on the field trip, having the new computer or the playground, not by earning some cheap dollar store toy. The parents should not be held hostage by such low tactics, either.

What sort of fundraising does your school do? Do you participate, or refuse? What's your biggest fundraising complaint?

All I can say is, I'm glad they chose chocolate covered almonds. I'm allergic to almonds, and I can't eat any...otherwise I'd be paying for lots of empty boxes.

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