bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Two years ago, I ranted about school supply lists. This year, I dutifully bought the boxes of Kleenex that were asked of me. (Even though Karen told me that the teachers never tell them what to do with them, so the boxes sit in their lockers all year, and then when they have locker clean-out, they just dump the boxes on someone’s desk. Nice.)

I didn’t rant about the supply lists this year. They seemed pretty normal.

But AFTER school starts comes the fun part.  SELL! SELL! SELL!

Mark is in Concert Orchestra and is expected to sell three 25% off coupons to Macy’s for this Saturday. Each coupon is $5. So, tomorrow he is supposed to go to school with $15. Ideally, he’s found 3 suckers that want to go to Macy’s on Saturday and shop. Unfortunately, he is not the salesman-type, so we will be sending in a check for $15, keeping these coupons, and not even use them ourselves because we have plans all day Saturday.

Is this for a special orchestra trip, you ask? No, my friends, it is not. In fact, I have no idea what it is for, or how it benefits my child. I know other orchestras go do things, but as far as I know, his does not. (There is a slight possibility that I have not seen the information that tells us what the money is used for. I don’t always get all the papers that are to be given to me) Last year, we had to sell $15 worth of car washes. Apparently, the place where they usually do their car wash was torn down, so now they’re doing this Macy’s thing.

So, yeah, a check for $15 isn’t going to kill us. But, later in the year, there will be another fundraiser for the orchestra…selling coffee.  I’m sure the coffee is delicious. Most coffee is. It is a wonderful beverage. HOWEVER, I’m sure we will be asked to sell more than I could ever use. (Well, maybe not ever use, but you know what I mean.)

I’d just like to know the “buy out” number. Tell me how much you need from each person, and instead of having to double that (if we’re lucky) just to get some coffee, I’ll just pay that.

Ever since elementary school my kids have been asked to sell something. When they were in elementary school, we sold gift wrap. (Actually, it was pretty nice gift wrap, I have to admit) But, at least the money (50%) went to the whole school, and was a once-a-year thing. You sold gift wrap in the fall, and then you were done.

In middle school, it’s magazine subscriptions. Okay, I get that. I need my Entertainment Weekly, so I’ll get it from the school. It’s a good deal for me, and it apparently works for them. Plus, it is also the only thing that we are asked to sell.

We don’t go from house to house selling any of this stuff, mind you. We ask a few relatives, and that’s about it.

Then comes high school. Where it is every man for himself. Whatever activity you are in, you usually end up having to sell something. Or, in Mark’s case with the track team last year, he had to send out letters to people (a mandatory number of people, mind you) asking for donations. “This is the way colleges do it, and they do it successfully.” Unbelievable.

JUST TELL ME AN AMOUNT THAT YOU NEED, AND I’LL WRITE A CHECK! Or at least give me that option. If I’m a salesman-type person, then maybe I’d rather go around and sell stuff. But, this gal ain’t one of those folks.

Now that I have that off my chest, I’d like to give a shout out to my son’s Cross Country team. They are not asking us to sell anything. They used to charge a little more for the spirit wear that they have, and that would go to the team for the end of season banquet, yearbook ad, etc. But now they don’t even do that. They charge less for the spirit wear and ask parents to donate an amount of money. THANK YOU! I gladly wrote that check.

This was a 700 word rant. I’m sorry that you had to read through all of it. If you did, indeed, read this whole thing, how about telling me how you feel about this stuff with your kids?

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Comments on: "Ding Dong, Avon Calling: Another School Rant" (7)

  1. Marci Huddleston said:

    Lucky you that is all you had to sell! This year in elem. it started with sending each kid home on the first day with a 30.00 entertainments book! Middle school – after 5 days – has been mag for school and again entertainment book for band ( um dudes – communication please) …. Nope – sorry I dont sell anything – back it all goes. Just tell me WHAT you need and I will buy it – I really even offer money because they are not required to tell us what they spend it on! Ive gotten one thru college already and LOVED that no more selling stuff.

  2. Normally, I don’t reply to these posts, but, since it’s about me, I figured I could chip in:

    This actually IS a once-a-year deal. This is the only time we HAVE to sell anything for the fundraiser. Later on in the year, there’s more fundraisers, but they are all optional. For these, there’s no amount you have to sell. You just sell what you can.

    Also, our orchestra teacher has told us a couple of things (in-class) that the money goes towards. I’m sure if you asked him (or, had me ask him), he would gladly let us know exactly what all the money goes towards.

    Additionally, we do go on special trips. We visit middle schools, play at State Festival, and go out-of-state to places like Chicago and New York. Next year, we’re planning on going to Italy. The more stuff we sell, the more money (I believe) goes into our “account” for these trips that require our own payments. I’m not sure, but I also believe the smaller trips are paid for with these donations.

    I’m normally opposed to mandatory fundraisers (especially the Track one), but it seems like you’re blowing this out of proportion a bit. In reality, it’s not that big of a deal.

  3. It is pretty ridiculous, what we’re required to sell these days. Every year, band kids had to sell at least 3 entertainment books each. The huge entertainment books with more coupons than any family could possibly use. So last year, I just stopped selling them…even to my own family. And this year, the Varsity Drill Team girls were required to sell 21 coupon books each for $10 a piece. People are going crazy over fundraising goals.

  4. I am so with you, Michelle! It has gotten to the point where I dread going to church in the fall because I know I’m going to be bombarded by the youth selling things that I don’t want! I have a 5th grader and an 8th grader and they each have at least one “general” fundraiser which benefits the whole school, although I haven’t heard specifics on what the money is used for either. There are also fundraisers for cheerleading, band and choir. My kids are generally pretty enthusiastic and love to go selling things in our neighborhood, but I’m afraid the neighbors are going to see us coming and run! What gets the kids motivated? It’s the fabulous prizes they can win! The companies that sell this overpriced stuff do a marvelous job of marketing to the kids! They in turn get a lot of man-hours (or kid-hours) of labor in return for some mediocre prizes that sound kind of cool to the kids! I feel like the companies are taking advantage of the kids to peddle their merchandise. I admire my kids’ industriousness, but enough is enough! I agree that the buyout option should always be available. When kids ask me to buy something, depending on what it is, I sometimes ask how much of the money goes to the program, and then ask if I can just donate that amount. That saves me some money and usually some calories!

  5. I know the reasoning behind the selling is that they feel like they can get more “donations” if the person feels like they’re getting something in return but I’m like you guys “Just let me write a check”. We don’t have kids but of course we have nieces and nephews and friends’ kids that we don’t mind writing the check but…to be honest, rarely do I actually use the coupon books or the overpriced flower bulbs I bought one year. The candy I bought another year sucked. The wrapping paper was the best and one of the few that got used…

    If I were the mom I would be annoyed too. Let’s be totally honest, it’s the kids’ project but the Mom always is/feels/defaults into being in charge of getting the darn things sold! Just one more Mom stress added to the list so I totally understand why it’s not something you look forward to.

    Maybe that could be the new Staples commercial. Some Mom going to buy pens for fundraiser forms and then dancing through the aisles when she’s told there is no fundraisers that year. 🙂

  6. My boys have to sell coupon cards that get you discounts at area eateries. They are 10 bucks each. If they sell 10, they get a limo ride to McDonalds. If they sell 15 they get to have a friend join them on the limo ride. I told them I would just take them and a friend to McDonalds… somehow that doesn’t have the same appeal. So who wants to buy a $10 card you will forget you have in a month and never use?? You KNOW you want to!!!

    PS – Mark, I *LOVE* that not only do you read your mom’s blog… but you actually commented 🙂

  7. So, I’m late in reading this, but I agree. Amber’s first school (Messiah) didn’t do any type of sales fundraising. Last year was her first at Zion and they do fall sales. It is horrible. We are not the sales type. It is about all I can do to take her around selling Girl Scout cookies that some people actually want. The sales stuff they send out is random food and paper products at crazy prices. Last year I told nobody that I know (that doesn’t go to Zion) about it and just bought 3 things. We officially participated. This year my parents bought 2 things, which was more than they needed to do, so big thanks to Grandma and Grandpa. But we are again just buying expensive junk that will get tossed or put into white elephant gifts at sometime. My family NEVER likes the food from these things. The pizza tastes weird, the desserts are not as good as what we are accustomed to from other sources, etc.

    So, while we like her new school and are thrilled that they seem to be more financially stable than the previous one, we also would rather just pay a hundred dollars more at tuition time than the pain of this fundraiser.

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