Friday, August 26, 2011

The Dreaded School Fund Raiser

Warning: This is going to be a rant (a funny one, but still a rant).  I'm going to ramble on and on about yet another pet peeve of mine.  The good news is that I am at least not going to ask you to go running home and beg your family to buy overpriced junk no one wants so that I can win a twenty-five cent prize that will break within minutes of it falling into my possession.  There! Now that the disclaimer is done, I can proceed with my ranting and raving.

I am not a huge fan of home schooling. I admire families that do it, but I recognize my limitations and jail time sounds unappealing.  Since one can't eat one's own offspring without going to jail, home school is out of the question for me. Really. I think I would eat my children if they were all home trying to learn something of value from me every day. It is because of this sad fact that my beloved offspring attend public school everyday.  While there are many wonderful attributes to public school, there are also a few downsides. Nothing too huge, but still they are there. Well, okay. In my mind, some of them are huge, but my mind is apparently not like the normal human mind.  Anyway, I digress.  Let's discuss one of the BIGGEST downfalls of public school: The Dreaded Fundraiser!

I have taken off my rose-colored glasses and I do realize that schools are not given nearly enough funding to support what they need to do.  This is a painfully obvious fact, and I fully understand that there has to be some way to help them earn the much-needed funds for the school.  Since the principal has repeatedly refused to take up pole dancing on the side, it seems that the only other option is the standard school fundraiser.  Well, according to the schools that's the only option.  I will happily provide a few other options before my rant is over.  First, let's talk about why I HATE SCHOOL FUNDRAISERS!!!

First of all, the quality of the product is worse than sub-par. Seriously.  I know there's the option of purchasing chocolate, but who wants to spend ten bucks for five bites of chocolate that is probably older than Texas?  Yes, wrapping paper is another option, but it must be lined in gold to justify it being the price that it is.  I don't want to buy your knick knacks, thingamabobs, whoziwhatsits, or dinglehoppers.  I don't want them!!!  While we're on the subject, I also don't want your overpriced cookie dough.  The only reason anyone ever buys those things is because the kids pimped out to sell them are so dang cute.  I mean, how can any nice little old lady say no to some adorable freckle-faced kid who just wants to earn a sticky hand toy?  

Then there's the "prizes".  These are not prizes, kids. They're junk.  Look, we can go down to the local Dollar Tree and fork over two bucks there and you can get pretty much any of the prizes you see in that fancy-shmancy "prize" catalog and you don't have to knock on strangers' doors or alienate your family members in the process.

Last year, Aiden's drama club put on an amazing play.  It was phenomenal, but it couldn't be presented in the school during school hours. The show was "Aladdin:, so perfectly appropriate.  Why couldn't it be shown?  Well, because it took away from class time. Instead, the show had to be presented at the high school auditorium only in the evening hours.  Interesting.  Yesterday, my kindergarten and second graders were pulled from their classes for an assembly during which they were told about all the amazing things they could get if they were willing to rob their loved ones blind...oops! I mean, sell these fine products to them.  The rep from the fundraising company is paid to get the kids excited to sell, sell, sell.  I wonder if this is how drug dealers get started.  I can see it now. Some kid is in rehab twenty years from now and says something like, "Hi. My name is CJ and I'm a drug dealer.  I first got started when I was in second grade and I got the thrill of earning a rubber frog in exchange for hours of hard labor and about $350 worth of products..."  See?  This is a dangerous plan, folks.

At this amazing school assembly, they learned something else. They learned that the kids who sell various amounts of products would get amazing rubber frogs (or is it little ducks. I can't remember.)  And, if they're wearing their frog, and the frog hunter finds them, they might get a prize from him.  This may sound fairly innocent, but I have an issue with it.  What about the kids who's parents aren't allowed to sell crap at work (like Byron) or who have siblings?  They do offer a lovely family package for families with multiple children at the school, but it's still well beyond our means.  So, while some kids are walking around with their fancy frogs,  my kids get to feel like weenies because their parents aren't able to support the fund raiser.  And, in case that isn't enough, the kids who sell whatever the quota is get to ride in a hummer limo to go bowling and play laser tag or eat Kona Ice out in front of the school while the other kids look on longingly. I'm all in favor of competition, but I prefer it to be competition in the form of something kids can actually control. Kids can't control whether or not their families can afford to participate in a school fundraiser.  They can control whether or not they make some lovely artwork to sell, whether they do their best at a jog-a-thon, or any other similar activity.  This morning at our bus stop, five out of seven kids at the bus stop were crying over the fact that they weren't going to have lucky frogs, ride in a hummer limo, or win an ipad.

Another thing about these fundraisers that completely irritates me is that the school only gets to keep a small percentage of what it earns.  On average, schools only keep 40% of their earnings. Our school is smart enough to at least offer families the option of just making a donation so that 100% of the proceeds stay in the school, but their timing couldn't possibly be worse.

That brings me to my next complaint. Can we talk about timing? Yesterday was Day #7 of school.  DAY SEVEN, PEOPLE!  I know you want to get a jump on the earnings, but can we at least have the kids in the school long enough for the teachers to know their names before we start milking them for money?  Sheesh!  Families have just forked out an entire mortgage payment just for school supplies and clothes and NOW you're asking them for more funds?  I'm thinking the timing is a little off here.  How about right around May when people are getting their tax refunds and are flying high on the twenty-five cents Mr. Obama has found in his heart to give them?  Maybe an end of the year fundraiser to fund the next year is a better choice, eh?

I try never to be one to complain without offering suggestions, so this is the part where I impart my brilliance upon you. Well, not really. All of these are ideas I've stolen from others, but I really like.  Let this also be a public announcement to the powers that be in our local elementary school: If I make the suggestion, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and take on the responsibility of trying to pull it all together.  That said, here goes nothin':
1. The ever popular silent auction and carnival event.  The cafeteria is big enough that vendors could rent tables to promote their stuff while tables around the perimeter could be full of donations up for auction. For really big ticket items, each classroom could take on a theme to create a basket to be auctioned. For example, one class might take on Saint Louis Cardinals. If even half the kids in the class bring an item fitting that theme, it would create a great gift basket.  Lots of families work for businesses that would be willing to donate items or gift certificates.  "Fine Art" made by the children could be sold for whatever parents want to donate. The day of the auction, there could be a little carnival held with games that cost a nickel to a quarter each. Cake walks, bean bag tosses, bounce houses, watermelon seed spitting contests, etc. are always a huge hit.  $50 at the local Oriental Trading vendor would buy enough cheap prizes for everyone who plays.  If it's a school with a good sense of community, these types of events can bring in thousands of dollars that all stay in the school.

2.  Local businesses and restaurants often have dine to donate nights. Thankfully our school is part of many of these.  The only one we don't do is the Capri Sun Packet Brigade. Every empty capri sun packet is worth something like three cents.  If you just put a bucket in the cafeteria for kids to put their empties packets in, you'd probably make something like $10-$20 a week. Easy and FREE for the school!

3. Jog-a-thons, math-a-thons, hop-a-thons, read-a-thons, etc.  The kids find sponsors, get to do something fun and intellectually or physically stimulating, and the school earns lots of money that it gets to keep.

Okay. I'll stop now. I've ranted. I've raved. I've given my argument against school fundraisers, and I feel a little better. Actually, I'd keep going, but the kids just got off the bus and they are tearfully begging me to reconsider letting them sell something.  I'm not budging. Have I ever mentioned just how much I HATE SCHOOL FUNDRAISERS???


taffi said...

Preaching to the choir over here, sista!

A & M Ras said...

We did a walk-a-thon last year and we raised something like $10,000. I was honestly shocked at how much they made. I am glad we are going to a charter school this year that does not believe in fundraisers.

Jennifer B said...

Three years ago, BratzBasher was in elementary school and they did something similar to the lucky frog thing. They gave kids bracelets with little pom-pom critters on them. Then at lunch all the critters got fed (candy that the owners ate). I made a much cuter critter for BB with my own two hands, and she actually got the candy at lunches because the staff didn't know the difference. I helped her make a couple more for her friends that couldn't sell stuff, too.

gracie said...

I totally agree, Aimee. Alas, our school did have a carnival every spring, complete with games, silent auction, and even a jail designed and built by my hubby. It was a huge hit when the kiddos would fork over money for teachers to get put in jail! I'm sure you'll find it in the attic of TCE. The carnival was a huge success and brought in tons of money. Of course they still did the fall fundraiser too. But our dear friend Tracey opted out of being the carnival chair for the umpteenth year in tow. No one else wants to take on that huge responsibility.

AimeeTheSuperMom said...

I wonder what would happen if I could pull together a team of four or five people willing to do it and then presented it to our new principal. I'm willing to put in the work. I hate that kids who's parents put in tons of money get frogs. What about the kids who's parents donate hours and hours of their own time to help out? Those kids should get frogs, too. I genuinely despise school fundraisers.

Bela said...

I hate those with a passion also. Dd is selling cheesecakes now. They're expensive, and so, so small! I hate it.