Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Everybody Wants Some
The kids came home from school today with no fewer than three requests each for money. The kindergartners are going on their first field trip soon, and each child must pay $10 to go. Then there's the envelopes that came home to put monetary donations in for the upcoming Harvest Festival fundraiser for the school. And a flyer reminding us of the dining for dollars fundraiser at a local restaurant to support our school. Plus there's still the in-progress Fall Fundraiser where we're supposed to be selling things from a catalogue on behalf of each of our kids for the school.
That's a lotta moola.
It's not the teachers' fault, it's not even the school's fault. They've been hit hard by budget cuts, and they've got to make it up somewhere. I get that. But where do we, the parents, draw the line? We (Michael and I) pay . . . an embarrassing amount of property taxes every year (I'll just say that we bought our house at the height of the housing market a few years back, and leave it at that), and every time I write that check, I think, "We're supporting our school with this money." But there's still the guilt when I don't participate in every single school fundraiser (and I don't).
And it's not just the school. I can't go to the grocery store anymore without being hit up every single time by someone sitting strategically at the entrance/exit to the store asking for money for the homeless, to keep kids out of gangs, to support the local Boy Scouts, etc. Then there are the people who come to our front door trying to sell things or asking for donations for this and that. And I never give them money, because honestly, how do I know they are who they say they are? How do I know the money is really going to that cause? (I wrote a check to a guy one time who came selling children's books to raise money for a school-sponsored trip to Japan or something; it was a scam - I never got the books and later found out that a few people in my neighborhood had been similarly duped.) I'd much rather donate money to well-known, reputable organizations via mail or internet. But these days I don't donate much to anyone. On the one hand I feel bad, because I know that we have it better than a lot do. Sometimes, when I say no, I get a little bit of hostility in return. "What, you don't want to help kids?" I've been asked. Maybe I look like someone who should be giving a little more? I don't know. In those instances, I want to say, "Hey, you don't know my situation! You don't know that I have six kids and a sick husband! How do you know I don't need help?" But I never say anything, I just keep walking.