It’s fall ya’ll!
That first-day-of-school excitement has come and gone. There’s a brisk chill in the air, leaves are beginning to change colors, and pumpkin spice everything is in full swing.
The holiday season is fast-approaching – which means store shelves are lined with pumpkins, blow-up turkeys, and Christmas lights all at once. Our children seem to lose their shit every time we set foot in a Wal-Mart. It’s like sensory overload as they eye up discounted Halloween candy and Christmas gift sets, full of soaps and “washable” bath crayons.
Once you begin noticing the scent of holiday commerce in the air, you can almost be certain of what comes next: school fundraisers.
Yep. Any day now, I expect my kids will be bringing home packets filled with catalogs, order forms, and prize sheets. What are we selling this year? $20 cookie dough that yields 1-dozen snickerdoodles? Candles? Popcorn? How about those variety packs of gift wrap that are actually the tiniest colored paper samples ever?
I’m just going to come right out and say it…I HATE school fundraisers.
Now, before you grab your digital pitchfork, and begin rallying your lynch mobs, hear me out.
First, and foremost, I support my children’s school, their teachers, and staff. It’s important to note, up-front, that I’m not some crazed, angry tax-payer, who thinks our schools and community aren’t worth my time and money – that is FAR from the truth.
Second – I support supporting our schools. I go out and vote for levies and board members. I stay in-the-know by following district web pages and social media. I stay involved in our children’s education.
I don’t hate giving money to our schools.
I know that fundraising is an important part of a functioning school. It helps pay for supplies, assemblies, field trips, etc…
(Don’t come at me with, “yeah, but my tax dollars pay blah, blah, blah…” I’m not here to argue what our local governments should and don’t pay for. That’s a whole different discussion.)
So, if I understand school fundraisers, how can I say I hate them?
We’re broke. I already said it – it’s holiday season! Any extra money we have saved (and, let’s face it, money we don’t have at all) is already being spent on making Christmas magical for our kids (calm your high horses, we’re a one-income family of six. Trust me, we’re not broke because the kids are spoiled). Depending what type of loot the school is slinging, we can sometimes get away with purchasing a gift for one or two relatives. Honestly though, most items in those catalogs are usually overpriced – bringing me back to my original declaration: we’re broke.
Materialism in fundraising is bullshit. As parents, we are tasked with making sure our kids don’t turn out as ungrateful, entitled assholes. This is hard enough to accomplish when every store we visit during the holidays have displays literally designed to wow our kids into little green-eyed-monsters. So, fundraisers that come with prize sheets, promising our kids that if they (their parents) sell the most, they (the kids) earn PRIZES – bullshit. Plushies, squishies, slap bracelets, fidget toys…Santa’s already on his way, man. Our kids don’t need prizes, and what’s more, they shouldn’t be conditioned into thinking they deserve a stuffed animal every time they do something for the greater good – i.e. fundraising.
Gimmicks are a thing now. Not only is there the famous prize sheet. Nope. Now, we’re also offering our kids vacations and a PS5. BUT, the catch is, you’ve got to sell a minimum of ten items, totalling more than $150, sacrifice a lamb, and then you are ENTERED in a drawing to win. Only 1 out of every single student in the entire country, and maybe even US territories, will win.
Come. On. Was ANYONE listening to Charlie Brown in that Christmas special?
School fundraising companies should be ashamed at how they market to our learners. They’re capitalizing on our children’s innocence and naivete while subliminally helping to confuse and foul up their perception of goodwill.
Listen, I know schools are going to keep sending home those catalogs, as long as there are families still buying. But, this holiday season, I implore you to at least use them as a teachable moment for your child. Don’t let your family be taken advantage of because your kiddo is excited about the ultra rare hover-copter he can “earn.” Explain to your kids the real reason you’re raising money. Teach them that the support their education is receiving because of it is worth far more than the prizes.
And, if you’re broke…don’t buy anything. But, still use this teachable moment. Donate time for volunteering. Write thank you cards for teachers and staff. Send support any feasible way your family can.
I may hate school fundraisers.
But, my children’s education is always worth supporting. And, their innocence is worth preserving.