Hide from your co-workers, it's school fundraiser time!
Doesn't it seem like the fund raising materials arrive earlier and earlier each year? And it's not just the schools. Soccer teams, day care centers, Scouts and church youth groups are all trying to get us to buy overpriced wrapping paper, frozen cookie dough, gourmet popcorn or an entertainment book of coupons I will never remember to have with me when needed.
This is the time of year when your co-workers dive under their desks when they see you coming with a glossy catalog in hand. Few kids are actually doing the selling themselves anymore, so what's the point?
The point is, the schools need the money and a fundraising company may take half the proceeds, but it beats holding 10 car washes and rounding up volunteers every Saturday. So we only have ourselves to blame if we continue to let school budget cuts erode the basics without pitching in or pitching a fit at election time. And keep in mind the fund raisers for your sports teams or youth groups are meant to keep the costs low to participate. So I get it, but it's getting old.
It's not just parents who are hit by fundraiser fatigue. Teachers and principals would love nothing better than to get back to the business of teaching. But these days, the fundraisers don't just pay for the extras. They are buying copy paper, library books and art supplies.
I heard from one teacher when I first expressed frustration with this system who agrees, but is also irritated by fundraiser fatigue. "As a class sponsor at a high school it's impossible to get anything done for my students without fundraising," she wrote me in an e-mail. "Budget cuts are a reality, our district couldn't even award our pay raise this year, and if I need money for my students I have to raise it through a car wash and cookie dough fundraiser. ... If you don't want to participate, then don't. But don't tell your readers to 'Hide from your co-workers'
"I agree that it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to do this, but the facts are that we have to in order to get things done."
Touche. I'll try to avoid the snark (and I'm writing a check to my school PTA, I swear!)
According to the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors & Suppliers, a full eight out of 10 Americans purchased a consumer item to support a school fundraiser and it rises to nine out of 10 parents. But still, the sales have dropped more than 11 percent in the past five years, according to the association.
If you are fed up with fundraisers, I suggest you FIRST write out a check to your school PTA and maybe even print out this beg-off form that blogger Buzz by Barbara wrote. And then make your voice known to elected officials who have put schools in the business of using child labor to shill for these companies so they can buy band instruments.
And here are the products that we see the most as friends start to wave the catalogs around. See if you feel the same way we do.
-- Wrapping paper: Love the designs but it's too expensive when you can buy the same roll for half the price in the store. Still, you do get some use out of it.
-- Cookie dough: Same problem -- too expensive compared to the store. And the fact that you have to defrost the pies or cinnamon bread before you can actually bake them is a pain.
-- Entertainment books: These do appear to be worth the cash but I seem to always forget to put the coupons in my purse when I need them! But this is nice to hit up out-of-town relatives, who can buy them for their city, and our frugal friends actually look forward to these.
-- Boy Scout popcorn: We wish the scouts would find something else to sell. Of all the fundraisers, this one is usually hardest to sell because it sometimes comes right after the school fundraisers. It is good popcorn, though. Sell cookies and I bet you sell out!
-- Candy bars: You don't see this as much. At $1 a pop, you could feel good about contributing and getting a little something in return. However, your teeth and your waistline probably weren't so happy.
Now in the fundraiser hall of fame, we put at the top the Girl Scout Cookie sales. Some people schedule time out from their diets just to enjoy the yummy sweetness of a Thin Mint. The Girl Scouts have figured it out and make us want those tasty morsels even more each year.
Now, off to write our checks for school.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson