Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Raising Kids, Raising Cash

I'm all about fundraising.  Change in the world takes money, and it's not like there's enough of it for things that matter.  We give generously when able.  Heck, I've worked as a fundraiser and I know that giving can be transformative - for the donor and the receiver.

And I want to be supportive of Freddie's nursery school.  Really, I do.   Many of the families that attend the school have less than we do.  But I just can't do it.

Here's why:

Actually, that part of my problem comes in the spring, during candy sales.  The fall fundraiser that we're opting out of is slightly less problematic.  The cakes and pizzas are at least made by a Maryland-based bakery.  But they still arrive, over-packaged and with questionable ingredients.  I might not always use 100% organic ingredients when I bake, but I'm certain that we're at least generating far less packaging waste.

No Impact Man reported that 40% of municipal waste is packaging.  Walking Freddie to school on garbage days, I've little doubt of that.  We go to some lengths to recycle cardboard and paper, even the bitsy bits that are easy to overlook.  (Franklin, especially, is a champ about this.  He's been known to fish things from the garbage can and shoot me looks.)  We buy less.  And if I see something that is absurdly over-packaged, I'm quite likely to pass it up in favor of something less bundled.  Second-hand stuff, of course, comes with virtually no waste.  But most of the world isn't listening, and we see garbage galore.

I've considered suggesting alternate fundraisers, but I realize exactly how much work they are.  When many of the kids involved are infants, it's tough to argue for a read-a-thon.

So instead of selling cakes and pies and candy bars, we're just going to write a check.  It feels a bit lazy.  I'd be among the first to volunteer Freddie to hit up his adoring aunts, uncles and grandparents for donations in support of a walk-a-thon, but I'm not inflicting pricey lemon bundt cakes on the extended.

Actually, my Big Plan is to suggest that the elementary school - where Freddie will move next year for pre-kindergarten - do a trash-a-thon.  My friend Y's daughters do this, asking others to pledge for every bag of garbage the class fills.  They make a nice dent in tidying up their corner of the urban landscape, and betcha that those kids get the Don't Litter message loud and clear, as well as a very real sense of how much waste we generate.

It will take some selling on my part, I'm certain.  There's a general attitude of dislike and frustration towards fundraising.  Why don't they just raise the tuition?  one dad complained to me.  And I'm often left blinking, wondering why they'd want me to sell a dozen cheesecakes instead of just asking me for cash.

This year, they're getting the cash.  Like it or not.

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