Sunday, October 21, 2012

Want something? Do something, ANYTHING!

As I mentioned before, I grocery shop on Friday nights.  I put the girls to bed, and head out on my own.  I can take my time, check my list, use my coupons.  The lines are usually non existent, there are about 4 other people shopping, and it's actually fairly relaxing.  I haven't grocery shopped on a Saturday in ages.  Even when I was working, I figured out that Friday night was the way to go.

Well, yesterday and today I was reminded of one of the reasons I despise the grocery store on the weekends.  Every weekend day there is SOME sort of group hanging out at the doors who want some of my money.  I had to go out a few times this weekend to pick up some little things I didn't realize I needed, so I ended up visiting two grocery stores a total of three times.  And each time I had to duck and cover my way in, because every entrance had a group looking for donations.

Here are the people I have no problem donating to:
  • Anyone collecting food or product.  Feel free to hand me a list of needs, and I'll probably pick up a box of pasta or can of cat food while I shop.
  • Veteran Society
  • A cause I support, like the Leukemia/Lymphoma society or Relay for Life
But lately, every sports team, school class, school club, extracurricular club (dance, gymnastics, whatever) has been looking for handouts as well.

NOW, I have done plenty of fundraising during my school days.  I distinctly remember going door to door in my neighborhood selling girl scout cookies.  In high school we always did fundraising for the band trip.  We sold Yankee Candles, candy, and put on a huge craft fair.  I remember participating in car washes and bake sales.  My senior year we sold magazine subscriptions to bring down the cost of senior activities.

The point is, we DID something.  We sold you a product, provided you with a service.

Madison is starting to participate in activities.  She's taking dance classes, and I'm hoping to let her try gymnastics next year.  We have sports looming in the future, not to mention all the activities that show up in elementary school.  Reagan will start activities within the next couple of years.  I'm sure at least SOME of these activities will have SOME sort of fundraising at SOME time.  Yes, I'll let the girls participate.  But I won't let them panhandle.

The new thing in our area seems to be to just dress the kids in something that advertises the activity (a jacket, or a uniform, whatever - or sometimes nothing that indicates in any way who they are), hand them a can or bucket...and that's it.  The kids hang out, chatting, playing, fooling around, and when you pass them they yell "do you want to give money to _____?????"

Isn't this begging?  Sticking a can in a stranger's face for money that will benefit only you?  Am I alone in being annoyed by this?

If you are outside the supermarket with a bake sale, I'll give you a dollar for a cupcake or brownie.  If you are at Dunkin Donuts having a car wash, I'll drink my coffee while you wash my car.  I'll always buy girl scout cookies.  I'll buy a raffle ticket.  If you're selling candy, I'll buy a bar.  Or maybe I'll give you the dollar and tell you to keep the candy!  If you're not selling something, not providing a service, but you are doing something, I will still help you out.  I was happy to give a donation to the Winter Guard last year.  The girls had their flags and rifles spinning, they were playing a video of past performances AND they had a poster detailing the competition they were hoping to get to.  I was happy to support them.

There are plenty of fundraising opportunities that don't require hitting up strangers at all!  Both the school I worked at and my church utilize the shopwithscript program.  You buy gift cards through the organization, you get the full value of the gift card, and the organization gets a cut.

No, it's probably not ok for kids to go door to door in their neighborhoods anymore.  I know families are overwhelmed with catalogs for wrapping paper, candy, Yankee Candles, whatever.  Parents can only hit up their colleagues for girl scout cookies so many times.  I know there are organizations that need funds to stay afloat.  I was a music teacher, I get it.  But I'm sorry, I am NOT ok with kids just hanging out begging for spare change from strangers.  What does that teach them?

Lemonade stands, bake sales, car washes instill the value that you need to work for what you want.  Our band trip fundraisers weren't mandatory.  Someone could work hard and have their entire trip covered, someone could do nothing and have to pay the full cost (or not go).  That teaches kids that work is worth something.

Holding out a can for your PERSONAL gain (not talking about charities) teaches kids that if you need something, just bug people until they give you the money for it.

A few years ago, I could be quietly annoyed by this and just walk by the obnoxiousness.  If they were really loud or persistent, I'd even fake a call on my cell phone.  But now, I'm picturing my girls being told that they'll be spending a Saturday afternoon at Stop and Shop collecting money, and ME being the bad guy for refusing to let them do it.  I guess I need to prepare since I was hit up by three separate groups this weekend, and it doesn't seem to be going away.

I'll offer to help them bake.  I'll buy soap and sponges and teach them how to wash a car.  I'll help them call extended family to sell cookies or candy or wrapping paper.  If that makes me the bad guy, so be it.

Thoughts?  Am I alone in my annoyance?  Would you let YOUR kids just hang out asking for spare change?

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Christy K. said...

I completely agree.

Jen Piwtpitt said...

I feel you. Last weekend I visited a certain big box store 4 times in 3 days (don't ask - a list would be helpful, right?) and there was a private school out there collecting money - EVERY DAY of those 3 days. Uhhh....I pay taxes so you can go to excellent public schools. I'm sorry that your parents think the public schools aren't appropriate for you, but that's not my problem. They chose to send you to private school, they need to shell out some dough. And don't put the Kindergartener's on the cans - it's near impossible to say "No" to their little toothless lisps, "Can you help my sthool?" Ugh!

Meredith said...

Programs that are funded already irritate me the most. I know the high school sports are funded AND we have "pay to play" where the parents kick in $50 for their participation in sports. What is this begging FOR???

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