Am I the Only One?
Original post made by Rebecca Surley, Barron Park, on Sep 18, 2009
First it exhausted me. This is fundraising and activities for
just one child and just one venue. Most of us have two or more
children and probably 3-5 other venues for each child. By venue I
mean, other events/organizations that also need fundraising and
volunteering to fund the cost of running their programs. How many
do you have in your family?
o Maybe you're a member of the YMCA
o How about the baseball, basketball, swim teams
o Piano, ballet, dance anyone?
o Even PAUSD is a separate one with fundraising events and
Each venue wants to make their organization special by doing
something fun for the kids. Can you blame them? So besides just
the events you purchased, there is usually special trips involved
like trips to Raging Waters, trips to the Pumpkin patch. All of
this requires more money and more volunteering from parents.
When is it too much? What are our kids really getting out of
this? A lot of fun that's for sure. But when have we crossed the
line of just wanting to provide the very best for our children, to
giving them the experience to become good moral citizens to just
plain spoiling them. Somewhere, too much must mean spoiling. Have
we hit that? I sometimes feel that I can't add more 'special
activities' for my own kids because the schools, teams, etc. are
already spoiling my kids enough.
Every time I see requests for volunteers and request for money
(which is almost daily now), I think of East Palo Alto. I wish I
could stop doing this. And of course, not just East Palo Alto,
anywhere else in the United States where other kids are not getting
the same opportunity. Let alone, getting even deeper, any hungry
kids or scared kids because wars going on around them. Like I
said, I wish I could stop thinking like this. Shouldn't I be
volunteering some of my time for these kids too?
I really feel strong about giving and I wanted to teach my children
the importance of giving and instill in them this strong value.
But, I want to teach my children that fundraising just to give back
to yourself is not giving. So the fundraising to purchase bats for
the team would not be giving. It may be just a way to hide the
true costs of having my child join the baseball team but it's not
giving. I find it hard to teach my kids this message and still be
a good community team member.
Now this one is very selfish, I know. I want to control my
charitable giving and I want something in return. I want to feel
good about it. So I want to give to those organizations that
really hit home for me and make me feel great that I gave. But
quilt giving gets in the way or frankly eats up all the money I
have available for giving. So that cute little Girl Scout that
comes to my door selling cookies that I don't need, I buy. Guilt
giving. I can't turn her down. How would she understand that? And
professional fundraisers know this; that's why it's such a
prevalent way of fundraising. Several times a year, I go into
work and we have a table set up for all my co-worker's children's
fundraising forms. You know these forms, Sally Foster gift
wrapping, Christmas cards, ornaments. We go around and give or
really buy at inflated prices. Whoever starts out sets the price.
So if I give $40 to each one, they turn around and give $40 to me.
So I end up paying out $240 and receiving $240. Why do we do
this? Quilt-Giving. Ask your family and friends to give. It's a
good one; they can't turn you down. I can't.
Now back to our 5th graders. It occurred to me that if I took the
total cost of all the fun opportunities scheduled for the 5th
graders it would cost me just $56 for the entire year. And if I
were to also pay for another 5th grader who couldn't afford it, it
would still just cost me $112. Then we wouldn't have to ask our
volunteered-out parents to volunteer more time for working the book
fair, helping with the Spaghetti Dinner, the Bake Sales, the Car
Washes, the Snack Sales, the Movie Nights, the Monday Casserole
Sales. We would still have to volunteer for those events such as
the Boat Trip, Colonial days, yearbook, etc. But we wouldn't have
to volunteer our time to raise the money and still foot the bill
anyway. You know, you make the dinner and then you buy the dinner,
or you work the book fair and you buy the books, you supervise the
car wash and you supply your car to be washed.
So am I the only one who feels this way?