Tuesday, May 02, 2006

slacker mom, redux

Last night, for the eleventh year in a row, I purchased raffle tickets for our kids' elementary school. Mariah graduated from elementary school in June of 2001, and Nick started in the preK program there that fall. We're on our third principal, our eleventh teacher (that's right, no repeats!), and our eleventh spring fundraiser. I have never, once, won anything in the spring raffle.

In the early days we volunteered. We donated goods for the silent auction, staffed ticket or game booths, collected sodas to be sold. We bought lots of raffle tickets. Well, not lots compared to the parents who bought stacks of 100, but enough. The spring carnival was a fun affair, with a bouncy castle and a petting zoo, an obstacle course and a dunk tank. There were little games where the kids won cheap prizes by picking up the right duck from the tank. You could get your face painted or temporary dye sprayed into your hair. The teachers contributed, and kids begged their parents to bid on the outing with their favorite teacher, the opportunity to be principal for a day, the ice cream party with their four best friends.

I think it's still pretty much the same, though the items in the silent auction seem more professional lately and the organization far more streamlined. We are still asked to volunteer, but lately we don't. It's not just that we're busier. The festival has changed a bit: prices have gone up on the rides, the games, and the various food sales, and it raises far more money than it used to. The requests for donations have gotten bolder, too. Where once students were asked to sell a minimum of five raffle tickets, now it's ten. And those who won't or can't volunteer are asked to donate cash, for the right to see their name up on a wall of names.

This kind of fundraising works. People want to write checks and get recognized for doing so. As I've said, the carnival makes a lot of money (though it has in recent years been eclipsed by a winter art auction, whose prices make my head spin). But I've noticed that the less I participate, the more money the carnival seems to make. So it's really for the good of the school that I bow out again this year.

Except for the raffle tickets. Maybe this year I'll win something.

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