Posted by: Kate | September 4, 2008

Don’t Pimp my Kid

The first-day-of-school thing went well, with no major incidents for either kid.  They each behaved exactly true to form:  Jacob was excited about the theory of going to school but hung back a little when it was time to walk in the door, and Emily was so anxious to go that she ran for the bus without saying good-bye.


Both had good first-days. Emily’s teacher is new to the school district but has taught elsewhere, so she’s a good mix of new but not inexperienced. Jacob has the same mix of teachers as last year, which helps him tremendously. By the third day, they were both absolutely exhausted and overstimulated.


I don’t know if the whole state does it, but in this neck o’ New Hampshire, they start off with a three-day week, followed by a 4-day week after Labor Day, and next week is their first full, 5-day week. It eases them in, not to mention the parents.

So, overall, a good thing, right? Right. But, because it is a true gift, I was able to come up with one gripe already.

It has to do with Emily’s school. She came home yesterday, her fifth day of school, with a big packet of fundraising paraphernalia and an obviously pep-rally-inspired fervor to go out and sell overpriced cheap crap to friends and family, so that she could win prizes and acclaim, er, I mean, earn money for school activities.

I hate this.

I don’t mind fundraising as a general concept, but I hate that they get the kids so hyped up for it so early in the school year. I hate that they make it such a competitive venture, and that they bribe the kids with cheap, tacky, plastic prizes.

I hate that I look like the bad guy when I refuse to allow my daughter to go door-to-door selling stuff to neighbors and strangers.

But first of all, I actually do know of a case – the sister of a girl who was in the Girl Scout troop my mother led, back in the day – of a girl who was grabbed on a guy’s doorstep, dragged into the house, raped and killed. Parents tend to be more visible and present with it now, but still, the image haunts me.

And secondly, don’t pimp my kid like that. How about we start with a walkathon, or a car wash, or simply requesting donations? Why should we be splitting families’ already-strapped funds between benefiting the school and buying cutesy trinkets? Let the kids put forth some effort, absolutely, but there are ways to do it that don’t involve an order form.

I have been accused, in the past, of being judgmental, when my views don’t match yours. Lest that happen again, let me assure you that if your kid shows up on my doorstep with a brochure and an order form, I will order something, every time. Because I do want to reward their efforts, and because I have no need to impose my opinions on anyone else. (Unless the simple act of writing and posting is an imposition, in which case… you know how the mouse works, right?)

But, here, once again, I’m going to be the Mean Mom who refuses to even open the fundraiser envelope. Instead, I’ll encourage Emily to call or write to family members and ask them to donate to her school, and when the time comes, I’ll send her in with a check written directly to the PTA.


  1. Our first day of school was today, and our first fundraiser will be a walk-a-thon that the whole school participates in for Terry Fox Cancer Research. Our kids (as in the whole school) are not *allowed* to go door-to-door for fundraising and are supposed to hit up only family members and close friends. The province has a rule that bans the sale of any “unhealthy” foods (ie. chocolate bars & cupcakes). Last year, we put together a school cookbook, complete with photos & drawings from the kids. We started selling it at the beginning of December during our concerts, bookfair, etc. and it was a huge hit. The year before that, we sold hand soap. And who can’t use hand soap, eh?

    As president of the PTG and a parent of four, I would MUCH rather make donations than go through the hassle of fundraising!!

  2. I’m totally with you in the order-for-funds game. I hate that. I’d much rather see them do a fundraiser that involves active group volunteerism, like bake sales or car washes, to raise money. They’re fun, they learn something (other than high-pressure sales tactics) instead of hitting up friends and relatives for overpriced (but really very nice) giftwrap or fruitcakes. I have six nieces and nephews and a multitude of friends and neighbors kids. I buy the giftwrap. I have enough for wrap every gift east of the Mississippi.

    And does anyone even eat fruitcakes, besides their spouses?

  3. Yes, it becomes even more bothersome if you have more than one kid. Another gripe of mine– my children are bringing home permission slips for trips already…the trips aren’t the problem but the costs are outrageous, especially with four kids. So I guess that’s what the fundraisers are for, huh? 🙂

  4. Shoot one of Derek’s Preschools is starting this too. Blech! I really think there has to be a better way…wasn’t it up to thePTO at one point? I remember PTOs being more involved. The other preschool has a “Pizza Night” next week where part of the proceeds go to the school-now that I see more realistic. The fourth graders at the school have a keynote speaker coming in with “WILD ANIMALS” to teach them about the animals and conservation. They ae charging $5/person or $15/family, to me that is worth it as well.

  5. Our school’s PTA is starting a “no hassle” fundraising campaign this year. No selling wrapping paper, no selling cookie dough – just write a check directly to the PTA. Ask grandparents and other family members to write a check instead of buying cheap crud. Even if only 50% of the families only donate $10 each, the school will make more money than it would from one of the catalog things. I love that we won’t have to do any selling or buy cheap stuff. I’d much rather just write one check.

  6. It’s this time of year that I try not to answer my door in the late afternoons … there’s always some poor child trying to sell me something I don’t need, and I always feel badly for saying no.

    Annie, I knew Canada was better. I’m thinking of moving there depending on the Nov. election results. 😉

  7. I don’t think children should ever go to strangers’ houses without a responsible adult by their side. Period. I object to that fundraising stuff, but I that’s a whole different matter. It’s the idea of children going up to strangers without any protection that scares me.

  8. Ugh, I hear you. The last two years, my daughter’s school had a “fun run” type thing where family pledged money for laps. This worked great, but finally the PTA realized we didn’t need to be giving 45% of the proceeds to the company who ran it, in exchange for t-shirts and marketing materials.

    So this year they’re doing a flat donation drive, straight to the school with no middleman. I think it’s so much better.

  9. I remember when mine were that age and we had chocolate drives for school (one per kid) for sport (one per kid ) and before long we had a vegetable crisper full of M & Ms or tiny Mars bars because I wouldn’t let mine spruik them down the street. Why don’t they just ask for a cash donation or do something with the grown ups. My sister’s school hold Craft Shows, Fetes, Yummy Mummy nights out so that the kids don’t become fundraising pimps.

  10. Yes! When my neices and nephews call, every month or two, asking me to buy something from their fundraiser of the week I always explain that I am perfectly willing to make out a donation check to their school, troop, whatever, but I refuse to buy another cookie/roll of wrapping paper/overpriced candle/cheap box of stationary that I don’t want or need. I guess I can understand that there are (perhaps) valuable life lessons to learned through fundraising, but I firmly believe that those lessons can be achieved without peddling crap to strangers.

  11. I am so not looking forward to that junk- for one thing we don’t need anymore “stuff”.

    I’m of the attitude of how much does the school get, let me give you the 20 cents per dollar sold that the school gets from the item.

  12. You’re better than I. When Eldest came home with his PTA packet on Day 4, it immediately went in the trash.

  13. Good for you. I hate those fundraising things. Last year, BB brought home one for the first time, and much to Shane’s annoyance, I refused to buy anything. If asked, I would donate money to the school. But I’m not going to buy some crap just so my stepkid can go to the movies with the rest of his class at the end of the semester.

    I must say though that I have been surprised at his school’s insistence that the students not go door-to-door. There’s no way I would have let him anyway, but it’s nice that the school tells them they shouldn’t so that I don’t have to be the bad guy.

  14. We live in the boooooonies and can see one house from our house. The third day of school some kid around 9 years old that I’ve never seen before showed up here on a bicycle with a similarly full-to-bursting catalog of useless junk. I had to order from him just for the effort it must have taken him to get here. When The Girl has fundraisers though I leave it up to her if she wants to participate. She usually doesn’t so I just send a check straight to the band. Nevermind that I’ve worked my ass off in the band booster concession stand every home game for the last 3 years selling 2 cents worth of popcorn for a buck fifty. That should count for something.

  15. I totally agree with you. When it comes home it goes right into the trash. The only fundraiser we have participated in since the kids started school is Jump Rope for Heart, sponsoring the kids when they jump.

  16. […] the envelope that came home, on the fifth day of school, filled with all the information I need to pimp my kid (thanks Kate) for Innisbrook’s “Premium Products for Fundraising,” urging her/me […]

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