Bake sales, magazine subscriptions, cookie dough, gift-wrap, coupon books, auctions, scrip, collecting empty cans…kids pitching their school’s fundraising requests seem to come in every shape and size. (Remember the different size and style Weeples – those fluffy things with googly eyes glued to plastic feet – that were offered as prizes based on the amount of money brought in?)
Today I bought wrapping paper. A note to my work colleagues: I will gladly support your children’s school fundraisers. But please remember my encouragement and school spirit when I come by. Because don’t forget – I’ve got double the trouble that just started their educational experiences.
One friend informed me that her son’s school offers a “buy-out” option, eliminating forced fundraising by parental units. YES! I thought. This is the solution for me. Write the confounded check and be done with it. But no…apparently the school still tries to sell the kid on sales by encouraging them to WIN FABULOUS PRIZES and be a TOP SELLER. Bastards.
Well, by virtue of the etymological history of their pitch, the muppets cannot both be TOP SELLERS. So we’ll be buying out. (I do not promise to avoid snarky commentary on my pledge funds.) Perhaps I should start stockpiling Weeples…
I have long vowed that I will never make my kids sell things. I hate selling. If I liked selling, I would have gone into sales. So I am not a fan of making strangers feel compelled to compassionately provide to the gypsy children begging via sugary snacks.
I feel very strongly about this. Sales can be traumatizing to overly-eager little children.
I was six. I was a proud Brownie Girl Scout member of Troop #327. (I still have the sweatshirt with my patches.) I don’t really remember much about my scouting days. We went camping once; I was afraid to take off my shoes. But then our leaders bribed me with s’mores and good times were had by all.
But I vividly remember the horrific cookie kerfuffle.
All good little scouts are groomed to move cookies in large numbers. (I suspect they even put some sort of addictive chemical in the Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs.) “Would you like to buy some cookies?” With confidence in my spiel and cuteness in my uniform, I too could be a TOP SELLER, helping my troop reach its goals. And earning “incentive prizes” along the way – even a Cookie Pin for my efforts!
To kick off my first cookie season, my mommy helped me polish and perfect my uniform so I would present the perfect proper poise. I tugged on my sash, bobby-pinned my beanie and pulled up my brown and orange tasseled socks. I neatly folded up my “cookie sheet” (thick card stock columns for a buyer’s info and each type of cookie, including nutrition facts, which used to mark down sales) and was ready to sell.
Sell! Sell! Sell! Those incentive Weeples were MINE.
Here’s where I share the fine print. “Do not sell before the sale starts. The sale in your area should have an official ‘start date,’ and you usually can’t sell before 12:01 on that day. Even if you get your selling materials before then, do not sell a single box before the agreed time and date. You will get in trouble if busted for this, and may even be banned from selling.”
It was a day before the sale start that I set off to “practice.” I was very excited (I mean – there was a possibility of giant themed Weeples here). I decided to head to the home of a friend who lived up the street. I already knew her; I would practice my sales pitch on her mom. She would buy loads of cookies and then we would play on her trampoline.
It was a brilliant strategy. What could go wrong?
Well, for starters, her mom could be the leader of a rival troop. (I say her mom, and not my friend for a reason. I don’t think my six-year-old peer much cared when the sugary snacks were sold.) Her mother began yelling at me, berating me for being a cheater and noting that these were NOT the qualities of a true Girl Scout. By the time she informed me she was immediately contacting The Leaders to make sure my entire troop was punished for my heinous indiscretion, I was sobbing uncontrollably.
The next day (after the official contest start of 12:01 a.m.) she called the overarching Girl Scouts association and reported this felonious insubordination of OFFICIAL CONTEST TERMS AND CONDITIONS. In a display of mercy, my troop was chastised but given a second chance. We were given a strict lecture about ethics and set on our way.
I think I sold a total of six boxes that year. So it’s a good thing officiates put a halt to my early start.
Disclaimer: No, I shouldn’t have cheated. Cheating is bad. Even when you’re in first grade and practicing. (But for the record, you shouldn’t yell at kids either. You should give them ice cream and explain nicely why they can’t have cookies until tomorrow.)
But seriously, come talk to me when you’ve got the cookie goods. I will take three boxes of Tagalongs. And I won’t tell…