Monday, August 25, 2008

The stuff of learning

The kids came home today with a big fundraising packet for the school. They're supposed to sell candy, jewelry, wrapping paper and the like to people we know, with the school getting a cut and the kids getting a small gift for each certain number of things they sell. Well, this is another in a long list of things we're against, and here's why:

  • We prefer to make our donations straight out. We just gave $30 to the school's library fund. This money will be used directly for the intended purpose. The school will only get a small percentage of the proceeds of the sales, with the private fundraising organization getting the lion's share.

  • We don't want to bug our friends and loved ones for this. At some point in the year there will be a food drive, or a crop walk, or something else that we may want to hit up our friends for. And we don't want to waste the strong-arming on wrapping paper.

  • But most of all, we don't want to encourage a focus on stuff. Buying stuff that we don't need and never knew we wanted is exactly what we're trying to encourage our kids to stand against.

DW1 was pretty upset about this, because I guess the guy who did the tap dance for this was very effective. She wanted to get the flying disk that's the "gift" for two sales. (Point 4: She should give charity because it's important to give charity, not because wants to get the flying disk. I wonder what the implications of this would be for PBS pledge drives?) We explained it to her, she didn't like it but I think she heard it. We may give her a couple of extra bucks for tzedakah in the next little bit, let her decide where to give it. It'll be interesting to see if she gives it to the school.


    ssr said...

    this is really hard, especially since the school put a total guilt trip on the kids to sell, sell, sell! I think it is wrong, especially for crappy "gifts" and even crappier merchandise. wish there was a better way for the school to make money without pimping out the kids.

    Freedman said...

    Just today the onslaught of neighborhood kids with these same packets started knocking for donations.

    I am a teacher, I know the financial pressures school are under, but my school does not do this kind of fundraiser. We find it more successful to do a direct appeal to parents and community members with a secific goal (ie fund an expanded arts program).

    The worst part of all of this was hearing the kids want to sell to get "prizes" that are awful and further undermine the efforts of teachers and parents steer kids away from consumerism and video games.

    Mary T said...

    In principle I agree with your ideas. We didn't do this stuff with our kids. In practice however--I admit I have purchased things from neighors and relatives kids and have enjoyed watching thier enthusiasm when they thought their hard work selling was earning them some points toward a prize. Since they had not been 'taught' the same values my kids had--I didn't see a point to closing the door in their faces. I simply enjoyed the innocence of their smiles when I made my purchases.

    I recall especially a young honduran immigrant, Sophie who lived in my old neighborhood in Charlotte. she came back and visited my garden many times after I purchased an overpriced 'cardboard' pizza from her. I think it is good to have our principles but I think we also need to realize that there are folks who could not possibly understand them and not to expect them to. just my 'twist' on it. :)

    Shanna said...

    I, too, went through this with both of my kids, not only for their schools but also directly for the band. I'm so thankful we are past all of that because our whole family dreaded asking anyone to buy stuff - my kids never had 'salesman' personalities. [Actually, the teachers I've talked with hate having to get funds this way.] So, I have a soft spot for any child who makes the effort to do a sales pitch for his/her school and I will buy something just to help out.