A Facebook acquaintance posted a little rant about people who help their kids meet fundraising obligations for school and other activities. She is opposed to parents who solicit support for these fundraisers by posting them on Facebook or taking order forms and pledge sheets to work. This acquaintance was a high school classmate of mine, though we were never actually friends. I’m not sure why we became Facebook friends except that it was probably due to our twenty-five year high school reunion a couple of years ago. Many of the classmates were connecting as we looked forward to the reunion.
As my former classmate remembers it, when she was a Campfire Girl, she sold all of her own candy. When she was a Girl Scout, she sold all of her own cookies. When we were students at our Catholic high school and every student was required to sell hundreds of dollars in raffle tickets each fall or else suffer the punishment of not being allowed to attend any extra curricular activities for the school year, she sold all of her own raffle tickets. As she tells it, our generation’s parents never took our fundraising materials to work or made other efforts to raise the funds for their kids. I’m not so sure. Although my parents let us kids do most of the work, I’m quite sure they were willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
This rant came from the same person who once posted a status update wondering why “everyone” wants to be her Facebook friend now and reminding us all that she is just as “amazing and cool” as she was in high school, even if we didn’t all know it back then. I didn’t give much thought to her words at the time. Having been one who did not feel “amazing and cool” in high school, I felt that I understood her feelings, even if I didn’t agree with how she expressed them. But my former classmate’s current rant struck a nerve with me. That may be because I had just posted a link on my own Facebook page to my daughter’s Polar Bear Plunge pledge site. My daughter, at nineteen, is perfectly capable of soliciting pledges for her chosen charity and she is doing so. Why did I post her pledge link on my Facebook page? It’s not that I really expected much to come of it, but I am connected with more people who actually have money. If my posting boosted support for Kacey, it couldn’t hurt. And I’m proud of her. I wanted to brag her up a bit. But my acquaintance’s rant made me second guess myself for posting the link.
In all reality, the rant probably wasn’t directed at me. My guess is that the ranter has simply witnessed one too many status updates from a parent promoting their kid’s fundraiser. But what was the goal of her words? If it was to shame those who she sees as offenders, based on my reaction, I’m quite sure she accomplished her goal.
I don’t say a whole lot on Facebook. I read the words of others. I “like” them sometimes and I’ll occasionally leave a comment. But Facebook is a fickle arena. Most Facebook members eventually end up with a wide and varied audience. No matter what you say, someone might take offense. And I’m definitely not a fan of using Facebook to say things you wouldn’t say face to face. Maybe that’s why the rant just didn’t sit right with me. Would my acquaintance really express those same feelings if approached in person to support a fundraiser? Or would she politely decline and keep her criticisms to herself?
I’m not up for getting into an argument on Facebook. If I were, I would have stated my opinion. I support parents who support their kids’ fundraisers. The way I see it, just as our parents walked three miles to and from school, uphill, in the snow, both ways, our generation went door-to-door , all by ourselves and did all of our own fundraising without the help of our parents. In both cases, times have changed. When I was a kid, I could take off on my bicycle for a good portion of the day without my mom even knowing where I was or having to worry. What worked back then doesn’t necessarily work now.
Today’s parents have safety concerns that our parents might never have imagined. Today we know that children can be stolen away from us. Today we know that young kids simply shouldn’t be out on their own, knocking on the doors of strangers in order to support their schools and activities. Today’s kids have more fundraising obligations than ever. Most of them have multiple fundraisers not only to support their schools, but their dance teams, sports teams, scout groups and a plethora of other activities. And is it really the kids who insist on being involved in all of these activities? Or do we, the parents push them into all of this busyness?
And even if a kid were to go door-to-door today, how many people would actually answer the door? It’s not like it used to be, when it was common for there to be one parent at home at any given time. In most families these days, all of the adults work. No one is home anymore!
The kids in my neighborhood are mostly grown up. Rarely does anyone comes knocking on my door to sell anything these days. So when my wallet allows it, I will gladly support the fundraisers that my working-parent coworkers promote on behalf of their kids. I don’t know my coworker, Bob’s daughter, but I know Bob and I like him. There are pictures of his kids all over his office. That tells me he loves his kids and that makes me want to support them.
Fundraising has come a long way, too. Most of the fundraisers today are selling good stuff. The high school athletes sell cards that can be used at area businesses, repeatedly, for a full year. I can get one Dairy Queen treat for free when I purchase another. I can get money off the cost of gas at the local gas station, every single time I fill up the tank. Mark and I can enjoy two dinners at our favorite local restaurant for the price of one!
The volleyball teams sell frozen cookie dough that can’t be found outside of a fundraiser. I would give my left arm for some of that cookie dough right now. If you’re selling frozen cookie dough, come see me. I’ll buy from you! There’s a local pizza restaurant that is widely known for their delicious pizza. These pizzas are now available in frozen form and are a popular fundraiser. Bob’s daughter is selling pizzas. I’d be seriously disappointed if I found out someone had these pizzas for sale and didn’t ask me if I wanted some. And have you ever tasted one of those World’s Finest chocolate bars? I will never say no to those!
I guess my point is that how much or how little anyone supports fundraisers is completely up to them. No one is truly obligated. I had no problem declining the offer to purchase a raffle ticket from a group of young soccer players last week. The adult who supervised them brought them to the bowling alley and let them interrupt the league bowlers with their sales pitch. The soccer girls were cute, but I didn’t appreciate the disruption to our games. They got plenty of other support anyway and seemed unfazed that I declined their offer. I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.
I would like to remind my Facebook acquaintance that she’s free to ignore any an all pleas for fundraising support. Her arrogant stance on the matter really isn’t going to fix her problem and might only serve to offend her “friends.” Instead, I wondered why I let her words eat away at me all day long. Each of us is entitled to our own opinions and I’m really not a fan of someone who first has to belittle others in order to express their opinion. Each of us has the power of choice when it comes to fundraising and, for that matter, when it comes to who we’re friends with on Facebook. I realized I’d already wasted far too much time mulling over the sharp words of a person with whom I would otherwise not be involved and trying to get those words to sit right with me. I exercised my power of choice. My “friends” list is now just a bit smaller.