I Hate School Fundraisers

In the past, every time my kids came home with something to sell – whether it was Girl Scout cookies, coupon books, wrapping paper or cookie dough – I was actually in charge of sales. That’s right. When we sold 20 packs of Thin Mints, it wasn’t because I took my little girl by the hand and walked the neighborhood knocking on friendly people’s doors.

Nope. It was because I got out the checkbook and bought a bunch of cookies that I knew would last through the next three holiday parties. My girls were too young to knock on doors, and I hated to hit the relatives and office mates up for a bunch of overpriced stuff. So, I bought.

And then, this year, something miraculous happened. On the first Saturday after 9-year-old Patti received a glossy fundraising packet for holiday wrapping paper, I was busy preparing to attend my (censored)-year high school reunion. As I tried on 14 dresses, Patti marched up and down our street with another girl and sold over 20 items to our neighbors!

Who knew my shy little girl was a door-to-door sales genius? Who knew our neighbors would actually be so sweet as to buy over-priced stuff from her?

It was a revelation! I was so proud of my formerly shrinking violet. From now on, these fundraisers would be a piece of cake. I even looked forward to going around with my daughter to deliver all the goods and thank my kindly neighbors.

It took several weeks, but finally the goods arrived – and it was time to deliver them. "Patti, where’s the order list?" I asked, ready to go.

She looked up at me silently, but a gulp was written all over her face. "List?"

"Yeah, the list that tells us who bought what."

Patti smiled and shrugged.

The hunt was on. We needed to find one paper among all the hundreds of papers that had built up in the house over the first few months of school. It was an exhaustive search and we came up empty. I went online to the company’s site where we’d logged in all the orders. Sure enough, there was nothing but the item numbers and quantities.

We never found that *&%$ sales list. All we had was a document I’d made that linked names and total order amounts. We did our best, Sherlocking our way down the list, figuring out who bought what.

When we’d pieced the list together the best we could, we set out to make the deliveries. Instead of the Friendship Tour I had predicted, it was the Walk of Shame. "Hello, nice neighbor. Um, did my daughter here sell you some wrapping paper? We think she did, and if so, we think that you either bought this combination or these two rolls… heh heh heh."

Most people were incredibly nice about it. They shared stories about how such things had happened to them. They took items that they weren’t quite sure they wanted. It took a good four walks up and down the street over Thanksgiving weekend to deliver everything. Sadly, our last customer, our neighbor across the street, was quite sure she hadn’t ordered the monsters birthday wrapping paper. But it was all we had left. Sigh.

Well, we did get a nice, rare opportunity to meet the neighbors and laugh a lot, standing on their stoops. But I’ll tell you what. The experience didn’t help me hate school fundraisers any less.

And next time, that darned list goes straight to a safety deposit box.


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