Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting On My Soap Box

photo from

I'm going to write today about a topic that can be a bit controversial because it's all I can think about right now. It's all my kids can think about (and talk to me about) right now because they just had an assembly all about it where big promises were made. I'm talking about school fundraisers.

I hate school fundraisers. With a passion. And my kids hate that I hate fundraisers because then they can't win the prizes and parties that motivate the students to participate in the fundraisers.

How many people honestly want to buy wrapping paper, cookie dough, magazines, jewelry and whatnot at a ridiculously inflated cost? I'll tell you this: I sure don't. But yes, I do. If a kid that I actually know comes to my door selling something then I almost always will because I'm a sucker for kids. My kids hate this, too. If I won't let them sell these things then why do I buy crap from their friends?

I guess I'm sort of a hypocrite in that regard but I don't care. I'm the mom and I can do what I want - plus I don't think it's fair to lecture the neighborhood kids about what I think when their parents are obviously fine with it. That's not my place.

Well, push the wrapping paper and cookie dough sales aside because the latest trend in fundraisers seems to be more along the lines of Can you just give me some money for (insert school name here), please? In exchange for your donation, the kids will run a certain number of laps or shoot a basketball into the hoop a specified number of times in succession. I don't allow my kids to do these fundraisers either. Why? If the kid never ran one lap or if they missed a few baskets then the money is still collected. And even if they did run or make baskets, why should anyone be paying them to do this? Isn't that what kids do? Play?

I guess that what it comes down to is that I don't like the idea of teaching my kids to ask for something while giving back nothing in return.

I am not opposed to the idea of finding a way to generate money to donate to their schools, however. I have allowed my kids to do bake sales in our driveway, offer their babysitting or yard work services in exchange for payment, collect aluminum cans or even sell the clothing they have outgrown to a children's resale clothing store. I let them come up with their own ideas for fundraising, too - and sometimes these are awesome and sometimes they fail. But the point is that they are learning something. I will even take them to the dollar store and let them choose prizes if they earn the donation amount they were trying for. As long as they are learning to work for what they get.

It seems to me that many of the kids of today suffer from an entitlement syndrome. They feel that they are entitled to whatever they want and if they don't get it then all aytch-ee-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose. Fits are thrown. Tears are shed. This makes the new fundraising approach ideal for most kids. Collect money from friends and family, turn it over to the school and claim your prize. Easy.

My 5-year-old told me this week that if he did not bring any donations to the school for the current fundraiser then he would be the reason that the school did not get to have an ice cream party and he would not have any friends at recess. I am not cool with this type of motivation. It only makes me firmer in my position.

I hold on to some small glimmer of hope that my kids are learning something from all of this lesson I am trying to teach. I want them to learn the value in hard work. I suppose that only time will tell whether or not my methods are effective.

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