Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dysfunctional fundraising. What it lacks in logic it doubles in fun!

I’m not a fan of fundraisers.  There’s something disconcerting to me about setting kids up to sell things by the side of the road.  Granted, it can provide a valuable life lesson by helping them see first hand the pitfalls in a life of crime, the humiliation of pan handling, but it makes me uncomfortable to see them beg. It’s just begging with props.  The humiliation they have to experience to endure the whole process is a bonus, but hardly one that warrants the price.

In the younger age brackets there are the girl scouts in front of the grocery store with their boxes of sweets.  What’s the underlying message there?  What are we teaching these girls?  It’s okay to accost total strangers with promises of a sweet, guilt laden pleasures as long as they get paid?  Even worse is the financial lesson of selling something and giving such a large cut to your pimp, I mean Girl Scout Cookie Central.  I think when my girl gets suckered into this, I mean volunteers, I will wear a long coat, platform shoes and a hat with a big feather in it as I supervise.

I know there are other parents just as uncomfortable with the idea.  Trying to save their girls from the humiliation of a life on the streets they strong arm co-workers into paying exorbitant fees for cookies.  Do me a favor, okay?  If you need money to pay for your daughter’s extra-curricular, have some balls and just ask for the money outright.  Don’t bring some innocent cookie into your financial troubles.  Don’t taint the loveliness of baked goods with prices that hint at extortion.

Boy Scouts, already at a disadvantage with no cute skirts or jaunty berets, are left with the undesirable task of selling popcorn.  40 dollars for two boxes of microwaveable popcorn?  And you’re not even going to come over to my house and push the buttons on the microwave for me?  How much does that break down to per kernel?  Not to push conspiracy theories, but has anyone checked to see how many lobbyists for the corn industry have kids in the boy scouts?

The high school fundraiser is usually a car wash. Attractive high school students, predominately female, jump up and down holding signs.  Young pert nubile ladies bouncing in their white shirts, as if to say, “I have no idea that white clothing becomes transparent when wet, and my school spirit is abundant!”

To their credit though, I suspect these ladies are merely a lure, that drivers follow the bouncing signs around the corner behind the Denny’s to find band members and math club geeks doing the hard work of scrubbing grime off of bumpers.  This is especially torturous for said geeks.  First to catch the unchecked expression of disappointment on the driver’s face and then to have such close proximity to the harsh soaps required to clean a car.  I’m just saying it’s bound to aggravate their acne.

This past Saturday I drove into Purcellville and encountered a new kind of fundraiser all together.  One that has filled me with wonder and awe.  Clusters of kids with signs, as well as big swirling flags.  In one group there was a kid playing a bugle.  In another there was a tuba.  These kids were really trying to attract attention.  And they were successful, to an extent, with me.  I couldn’t look away.  I read the signs, but I still don’t understand why they were advertising a mattress sale at their school.

So many questions.

Who decides to buy a mattress as an impulse purchase?  Who is waiting for the perfect school fund raiser to come along so they can replace their current mattress?  Do you really want to encounter these types of people, in the hard light of day? Is there something I don’t know?  Is there a bed bug infestation running rampant in Purcellville?  Did they actually sell even one mattress?

Who thought this was a good idea?  At what school board meeting did they discuss the poor state of funds and look at this as a solution?  Who, in that meeting, is in bed with a mattress salesperson, and how did they talk everyone else into the hopeless scheme?

And the children.  Think of the children.  Never mind that they were given an impossible sale, they put forth such a valiant effort.  Flags and musical instruments?  Really?  “You know, I wasn’t planning to buy a mattress, but that boy is twirling that flag in such a compelling manner. . .”

The only bright side I can imagine to this fiasco is that these kids will have something to talk about at their reunion.  “Hey remember that time we sold mattresses for the school fund raiser?”

“Yeah, that was so much better than the next year when we sold blank VHS videotapes.”

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