Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Kansas City Star Op Ed

In January of 2008 my opinion piece about kids fundraising was published in The Kansas City Star’s column As I See It. I had sent it in August and was surprised the day it came out. I found out about it when I was listening to talk radio and the host (Darla Jay) mentioned my name and the piece and agreed with me! And had a caller who agreed with me!

I knew I was a writer when I didn’t mind the nasty comments on The Star’s web site in response to my “article.” These people don’t KNOW me; they only know ONE of my unlimited opinions.

The link is defunct, so below is the opinion piece. I am dying to know what you think because the next kid who asks me for money for his school is going to get a CHECK made out to his school instead of me ordering over-priced wrapping paper.

And yes, I DO realize my topic is too broad. It’s mostly about kids taking responsibility for their own sales, but the bigger issue is that they even have to do this crap in the first place. They barely have time to do their homework, yet they also have to fit fundraising into their schedules. No wonder the dropout -- and homeschooling -- rates are so high.

My original title was “Here Comes the Tiny Sales Force,” but the published title became “Kids: Do Your Own Fundraising.” The opinion piece:

"I have taken a vow. I will not buy any school or organization fundraiser item unless the mini salesperson contacts me personally.

School just started, and already I have gotten three solicitations. Many more are on the way. Some of the items for sale my husband or I actually need, like trash bags or chocolate. The problem is that the kids aren’t the ones doing the soliciting — their parents are.

Parents: if your kids are old enough to be handed sales sheets and promised prizes for high sales, they can make calls or visit neighbors personally (with you in tow, of course). Selling isn’t fun or easy. Plus kids are easily intimidated. So you send out a mass e-mail, you make calls, you put out a sign-up sheet at your job in the lunchroom.

What about when they don’t want to do their homework? Will you do that for them because it’s easier than haranguing them and teaching them responsibility? How about their chores? When does it end?

School fundraising as a general issue chaps my hide anyway, especially since the kids start as early as preschool. What’s the point in buying these wares when only 50% (if that) of each dollar goes to the school? And where do private schools get off having fundraisers? Why expect me to help buy each classroom a flat-screen TV or sports equipment? Just raise tuition or fundraise within the school or church. Or, God forbid, lower the salary of the higher-ups.

There is a sweet little girl in my neighborhood who comes to our house every year to sell Girl Scout cookies. I make sure to order as many cookies as I can fit into my budget because I appreciate how hard it is for her to deal with a semi-stranger.

We’ve all encountered too many “adult children” who don’t know how to make change or spell. Do you think maybe their parents cleaned their rooms for them, made their lunch every day, fought their battles … did their fundraising?"

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