F is for Fundraising

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When I was a kid, I remember being ushered to the school cafeteria or the gym each year. It was that time again: fundraising. Teachers got the kids excited, having us cheer and chant. Right as everyone was whipped into a frenzy, they showed off all the different prizes we could earn if we sold wrapping paper, chocolates, and baskets of smoked sausage. In those moments, my heart desired nothing else but those useless pieces of plastic. I would come home, wide eyed and ready to tell my parents all about the brochure in my backpack. I needed them to help me sell stuff no one wanted so I could get those prizes. The answer was always no.

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Why didn’t my parents understand? I had to sell this stuff for reasons I didn’t understand. It was important! I was going to be the only one not selling things. I would be the only one who wouldn’t get those wonderful prizes. Clearly they were stupid stupid stupidheads who were just trying to make my life miserable.

Now it’s my daughter’s turn. She’s being asked to shill for the school. Back in November, it was wrapping paper and prepared meals. I had no interest in the prepared meals because of how expensive and unhealthy they were. But I gave thought to getting something of the wrapping paper persuasion. I didn’t want Rachael to feel left out, especially if it would help the school. It was then that I learned how much of a cut the companies who provide these products take. I gathered all my indignation and became a stupidhead, like my parents before me, and refused to sell the crap. I lamented and didn’t understand why we even did this. I said that I would much rather give my money directly to the school. I would learn later that the PTA president shared my sentiment, and a boosterthon would be organized for future fundraising.

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We had been receiving emails about the upcoming boosterthon fun run. Then, yesterday, Rachael excitedly handed me the informational brochure. She wanted to run and raise money so she could get a bouncy ball.
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Aside from the fact that I feel that “fun” and “run” are words that don’t belong together, I don’t entirely mind the idea of a fun run to raise money. But I’m still irritated that the school is putting pressure on the parents through their kids, just like with the old way of fundraising. I mean, how could anyone say no to this face?
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But what are the parents who can’t afford to be involved with the fun run supposed to tell their kids? What of the kids who aren’t physically able to participate? If Rachael is unable to run enough laps or raise enough money to get that coveted bouncy ball, will she feel like a failure?
It also stirs up in me the aggravation that perhaps, if our schools were adequately funded in the first place, this wouldn’t even be necessary. Whether they’re aware of it or not, children should never have this burden placed on their shoulders.

But, I guess I can’t complain too much. At least this doesn’t require me to buy cheap jewelry and teddy bear chocolates.

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