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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Help. Is the PTO gonna hate me??

I need some help here, readers. Some of you have kids older than mine, so you've been through this before.

In our first two weeks of having a public school kid, I'm shocked at how many times we've been hit up for money. On three occasions we've been asked to buy "spirit wear" - namely, t-shirts and sweatshirts with my son's school name on it. We've also had "market day" fliers and book sale catalogues sent home.

And these are just the everyday fundraisers - there's also the seasonal fundraisers, like pasta and pizza sales that start later this month.

Here's my issue. My kids have plenty of clothes. The market day food is neither fresh nor healthy (kind of a misleading name, isn't it?) and I just don't have the space in my freezer. We have more books than we know what to do with - and a nearby library we visit weekly. On top of that, I'm not comfortable hitting up my friends and family for overpriced pizza or pasta or wrapping paper or any of that stuff.

However. I have no problem donating to my kids' school. I get that schools are underfunded, and I want my boys and the other kids in our community to have the best education possible.

Money for the school = GOOD
Overpriced crap I don't want = BAD

So, how do you solve that dilemma?

Well, we'd like to find out what the school really needs and then decide what we're comfortable donating - knowing we have two kids who will each attend the school for six years. Can we just make a personal donation from our family toward new computers or library books or whatever?

And then we could be allowed to ignore every market day and book sale and whatever other fundraiser they throw at us?!

Will that royally tick off the PTO? Are there better ways of doing this? I'd love to hear some thoughts on the subject...


  1. Ah, but if you donate are you separating yourselves... defining an economic divide? "We have surplus resources and don't need your junk." sort of thing? Will that cause a reaction? Do you care?

    I've actually been hearing this story from everyone in the area. Registration fees in the hundreds of dollars in some cases. The question begs, where does our funding for education go? I noticed that the football teams always seem to have new helmets...

  2. Will it set us apart? Probably. Do I care? Maybe a little.

    Then again, I'm not sure who will even notice.

    All of this school stuff is so new for us - I feel like I'm learning as much as my kid right now. In fact, I found all the rules and paperwork and school supply list kind of shocking, too. The fundraising is just another new thing we're trying to understand.

  3. I'm a public school teacher and I feel guilty even sending HOME those fundraisers!! I have had quite a few families over my 12 years, that just send it back on the collection date with a simple note that says "Instead of a purchase, our family would like to donate the sum of 5 items" and then they attach a check for like $35.

    In my school, it goes toward the fundraiser total and the kid gets the crap prize that comes with 5 sale items.

    I think it's absolutely fine to do it this way.

  4. My daughters attend preschool at a public school. Every year they bring home fundraising brochures. They're in PRESCHOOL! Who honestly expects a preschooler to go door to door and sell stuff? I'm not going to hit up family members unless it's reasonable stuff... not the junk most fundraisers involve. In the past I've ignored it, but I like the idea Beth brought up of sending a donation for the equivalent of X amount of purchases. In preschool it's not a big deal on the girls' end as far as "seller prizes" go, but when they get older I know they're not going to want to be left out. What a headache.

  5. I agree - really like Beth's idea so that the kids feel included but we don't have the buy (or try to sell) the fundraising junk.

  6. Anonymous12.9.10

    Hey, I, too, am with Beth. Great idea to make a one-time donation and call it a day. I haven't had a kid in school for many years. I thought this fund-raising stuff was terrible back then, so I'm sure it has multiplied a hundred-fold since! BTW, sports equipment is used and used and used...my son's helmet/football jersey in high school was at least seven years old, and I had to fund the entire cost of his soccer uniform (jersey, shorts, cleats).

  7. Hi Brooke, its Jen Scherer. When we were living in Texas, whilst Sydney went to a Private Christian Preschool that depended to an extent on Fundraising, they did it in really "smart" ways. There was the normal monthly Scholastic bookfair stuff (which usually had a $1 book in it, and if you put the order online, the teacher would get an extra book pick, so I would often order a few $1 or $2 books for our present box and the teacher got extra choices), a large Scholastic bookfair (which I actually ran) and a huge auction at the Spring Fair. That said, we never had the pizza, wreath, fruit box sale. Instead, each of the teachers had a class wishlist posted outside their room and as they might need supplies - i.e. colored cardstock for the end-of-year scrapbooks each kid got - you took down a slip with the item and just brought it to school. Now its probably different with public schools, but I would imagine in the back of your kid's teacher's mind there is probably some sort of "oh I wish we could get.... in the classroom". So maybe you could talk to his teacher directly and ask "if you had a wishlist of items, what would it be (in priority)" and then maybe buy a gift-in-kind like that. Its a very different way of approaching the idea of fundraising, and yes, its directed towards one teacher specifically (and would therefore directly benefit your own kids class more than the wholistic approach, which you may or may not agree with) but I just thought I'd throw that idea out there.


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