We’re only one month into school and already my kid is turning into a pint-sized sales person. It’s the curse of the school ager: fundraisers! It’s maddening how much of the money for activities the kids need to raise by themselves. And there’s no time wasted. As soon as my daughter started kindergarten, the flyers came home. Having a child in the school system for the first time, I was more than willing to do my part. I ordered everything and hit up my family and co-workers.

This year my daughter is in first grade, so the newness has worn off. The year starts with the sale of wrapping paper and other assorted…stuff.  Let’s be honest. I really don’t need any more wrapping paper or gifts, like a cow-shaped pancake mold! I’m pretty sure my friends and family are all stocked up too. Later in the year, I’m sure she will be selling butter braids, Yankee Candles and lots of other overpriced goodies. Add in all the Girl Scout selling-magazines, nuts and oh yeah, cookies!-and she can call it a full-time job. At the same time, the local cheerleaders and soccer and football clubs are trying to raise money for their organizations too. It’s a very competitive market for a limited amount of dollars. These kids have to be tough and put on the hard sell!

I don’t want to get all “when I was a kid” on you, but when I was a kid, we went door to door in our neighborhoods to hawk our goods. Today, our neighbors are strangers. The schools seem to need so much more money. There’s a lot of pressure. So what happens? Mom and Dad drag the catalogs into work with them. Everyone gets in on the fun. After your third go-round of passing a catalog around your department or giving up and just leaving it with a note in the lunchroom, it gets a little uncomfortable. “Oh, you again? Weren’t you just selling something?” Yes but this time it’s COOKIES! It’s enough to make you crazy. The order forms are due and you get desperate. Can’t I just write a check to the school instead?  No? Then give me 6 rolls of the metallic chili pepper wrapping paper. I’m sure I can find a use for it.

Earning some bank! Photo: K. Stevenson

How Can You Resist a Face Like That?
Photo: K. Stevenson

I get it. Public schools are underfunded and the fun stuff usually gets cut first. That leaves the PTO and families to pick up the slack if you want your kid to have a well-rounded experience and maybe go on a field trip or two. Last year’s expense budget for our PTO was about $26,000. It was covered by one fundraiser or another. Kudos to the parents kids for raising all that money. That’s a lot of candles and baked goods.

I wish there was an easier way to fund programs for our schools. I wish we didn’t need to beg our friends to buy a bunch of crap just so my daughter can visit a children’s theatre or have an educational science assembly.  Until schools are fully funded by town, state and federal budgets and the fun, educational stuff is added back in, I only have one question for you: Do you want to buy some pies? Well, do you?

I know, enough of the soapbox. Photo: earthhouse.com

I know, enough of the soapbox.
Photo: earthhouse.com

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