School is back in session, which means all of the activities that go along with it are back in full swing—sports, cheerleading, dance, scouts. You name it, kids are doing it. I’m all for it. What I have a problem with, though, is when I’m asked to pay for someone else’s kid to participate.
Now look, I’m not a jerk. There are charities for kids whose parents cannot afford to pay for them to participate in organized activities. That’s fantastic. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about fundraisers.
There are two kinds of fundraisers that I don’t like. The first one is when the school wants you to sell things to your friends and family. It’s usually overpriced junk, and I will not let my kids ask everyone they know to buy it. We write a check to the school, so that they get 100% of the money. My kids aren’t necessarily happy about this, since they don’t get the rewards for hitting fundraising levels. Every year I explain to them how ridiculous it is that selling $150 worth of junk gets them a frisbee. The worst is those ridiculous plastic penguins (or whatever the animal of the year is) that the school passes out for the kids to wear on display as they hit the fundraising levels.
This year, when my son’s boy scout troop sold coupon cards, he asked his grandparents and aunts/uncles to buy them. We bought the rest and gave them away. He’s not going door-to-door asking people to give him their hard earned money. We chose for him to participate in boy scouts, no one else should have to pay for that.
While these fundraisers aren’t the best, at least the kids are selling something, or making some kind of effort. I know that schools need money, and most parents can’t be counted on to give a flat donation. Fundraisers work, and while I don’t have to like it, they are a part of life.
The fundraising I absolutely cannot handle is kids (and their parents) asking for handouts. Like when I go grocery shopping and come outside to kids in cheerleading uniforms or baseball jerseys asking for a donation so that they can go to some tournament. They aren’t even doing anything. They are basically panhandling, and I think it sends an awful message.
It’s the society we live in now. With websites like GoFundMe.com, parents feel like they can ask for money for anything. I’ve seen parents request money for their kids’ team trip to attend a tournament, or even to fund a birthday party. Recently a friend posted a GoFundMe page so she could get money to take her daughter to tour the University of Hawaii.
If your team is lucky enough to be selected for some tournament, and you can’t afford it, teach them how to earn the money. They can mow lawns or babysit. They can have a car wash or a bake sale.
Last year I drove by a bunch of kids and their parents who had organized a car wash for their football team. My kids and I had some time to kill, so we brought the car in. The car wash was organized and well attended. It looked like the entire team was there and working hard. I was so impressed. I gave them a $20 bill. The parents and kids were grateful. I felt good.
To expect strangers to hand over money, and doing nothing in return for it, is wrong. It’s begging. It shouldn’t be allowed. If your kids want to sell me something, please tell them that I have three of my own kids to pay for. I am not interested in buying wrapping paper or cookie dough. I don’t want a $20 coupon card. My kids won’t be asking you, so kindly return the favor.
Well, except for girl scouts selling cookies. They can always ring my doorbell.