For years and years and years (apparently; remember, this is only our second year here) the kids’ school has done a Fall Fundraiser which primarily involves selling wrapping paper. Should you feel that you’ve reached your quota of overpriced wrapping paper, there are also crappy overpriced snacks. And things like baking mixes tied up with pretty bows that say, “Hahaha, sucker, you just forked over a 5000% markup on white flour.”
(I am not really a fan of this particular mode of fund raising. I’m sure you couldn’t tell.)
Last year—our first year here—apparently our PTA had been taken over by “the only people who cared” after some sort of kerfluffle at the end of the previous year. This small group… um, allow me to be southern here and preface this with “Bless their hearts,” managed to run things for a year, but I suspect their hearts really weren’t in it, and I’m just guessing, here, based upon how nearly every discussion started with one of them saying, “Well no one else was willing to handle this, so we’re doing it,” and the fact that all of them moved out of district at the end of the year.
That sort of dedication tends to take an already annoying fund raiser and run it into the ground; last year our wrapping paper sales hit an all-time low.
[I'll fully cop to being part of the problem---I refused to let my kids participate. Let's face it, the days of sending your kid 'round the neighborhood to sell things door-to-door are over. Sure, I did it for years with Girl Scout Cookies back in the olden days and nothing bad ever happened to me, but I'm not completely convinced a grumpy neighbor wouldn't pull a gun on one of my children. Plus there are enough kids in the neighborhood that I am regularly solicited for things and have to tell these other children, "Oh, honey, my kids are doing this too, sorry." And I am completely opposed to any fund raiser where the ADULT has to do the work, plus who am I going to sell wrapping paper to? I work from home!]
Our PTA had a complete restructuring at the end of last year—while the former officers were out having margaritas, I suspect—and this year Things Are Going To Be Different. We have a full slate of officers; people are actually going to the meetings; and it looks like this year we’re actually going to be about making the school better. WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT.
The first thing our new president did was decide that we will no longer sell wrapping paper. I think I love her.
Instead, she proposed a Fun Run—the kids collect pledges for either lump or per-lap amounts and then on the designated day they all run in big circles around the school for a while and then get a popsicle and turn in their cash. No one has to buy crap, the kids get exercise, and the school gets money. Hooray!
(In case you’re wondering, the money is earmarked to go towards building a track around the school. This may not seem important to you, but then you probably do not have a child who has been coming home for weeks complaining bitterly that when you have to do laps first thing in the morning the grass is still wet and your shoes end up all soaky. OH, THE HUMANITY!)
Chickadee immediately set to work raising funds: She sent out emails to her aunts and uncles and grandparents, explaining the event and asking them to sponsor her. Many of them ponied up, because really, are you going to turn down a cute 10-year-old explaining the Tragedy Of The Wet Shoes if you have a soul? No, you’re not.
Monkey was really excited about it all, too. He displayed this enthusiasm by forgetting to bring his fund raising packet home for a solid week. (We all have different ways of expressing ourselves.)
Now, Chickadee was kind enough to explain in her solicitation emails that both she and her brother are participating and he probably needs pledges as well. (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I yelled from the other room “TELL THEM MONKEY IS RUNNING, TOO!” while she was typing it up.) As a result, both kids garnered a fair number of donations and were very pleased with themselves.
Oh, how the children wish for a proper track to surround their beloved school. They love physical fitness! They feel the responsibility of belonging to this community and want to participate! This is why they’re so invested in this fund raiser!
Yeah. Um, that’s crap, of course. Whoever raises the most money wins a Wii.
We don’t own a Wii, because I’m a heartless monster and also a total cheapskate. (Hello? Nintendo? Remember all those blogger parties you had? NO ONE OFFERED ONE TO ME. Not that I’m bitter.) I’m surprised the children still deign to speak to me, frankly. Although who else wants to listen to them go on and on in excruciating detail about how they figured out the super special secret move in Lego Star Wars on the Wii at their friends’ house? True, I don’t WANT to, but I do, because I’m the mom and that’s my job.
So the motivation to get the donations flowing for this particular fundraiser may not be entirely selfless, is what I’m saying. On the other hand, they’re kids, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dangling a carrot in front of them. Especially when that carrot might come with the ability to practice bowling in your family room.
Last night as we were counting and tallying funds the idea came up for the kids to combine their donations; instead of each of them showing up with half of what they’ve amassed, they could just put $1 on one sheet and all of the rest on the other. This would increase their chances of winning the Wii by upping the total on one sheet. The kids talked it over and decided that was definitely the way to go, and I was pleased that they’d really thought about it and worked together and such.
And then Otto asked if perhaps there’s an ethical reason not to do that; does allowing them to combine contributions run counter to the spirit of the competition, even if not the letter? (Otto is the ethics police. It’s nice to have at least one morally upright member of the household. Usually.) We never did come to a conclusion.
My feeling is that even once they’ve combined their money, they’re unlikely to win. But they might, I suppose, and then would that be wrong? There are kids in the school with two, three, four siblings all attending. Surely we’re not the only family to whom this thought has occurred…? Or is all of that irrelevant, and either it’s right or wrong regardless of what other students might do the same?
Ethics make my head hurt. But when I finally told the kids that we needed to stop talking about it and they needed to get ready for bed, Monkey launched right back into tell me how there’s this one place that only little baby Anakin can get to on the Star Wars game and then my brain began to bleed and now I can’t decide whether this is truly an ethics matter or not.
Or maybe I should oppose it on general principle because they MIGHT win and then I’d have to listen to even more Wii talk, like maybe so much that I would even LOSE THE WILL TO BOWL.