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Schools need the dough, but not cookie dough / September 01, 2011
School is back in session, which means fund-raising has returned in full force. My kids (in second grade and in kindergarten) came home from school this week all pumped up to sell cookie dough. They couldn’t wait to win prizes and attend the Mega Party. Interestingly enough, they never mentioned why they were being asked to sell expensive ($14-$16 a tub) and unhealthy cookie dough. Now, that may have very well been discussed in the assembly that they were pulled out of class to attend, but it certainly wasn’t what stuck in their heads.

Trust me when I say I understand the need for fund-raising. Teachers shouldn’t be expected to pay for the most simple of supplies for their classrooms, schools shouldn’t have to struggle to buy paper and ink cartridges and every child should be able to attend educational field trips. However, the tactics used to get children to raise money for these wonderful causes are getting out of hand. Why are we paying an outside company to motivate our own children (and ultimately, their parents) to raise money for the school? Why are we OK with giving these companies 50 percent of the money we raise? When did we allow our kids to become salesmen instead of just students? Should we be OK with excluding some students from attending the “Mega Party” because they weren’t able to sell enough, likely through no fault of their own?

To be fair, I’ve seen some great fund-raisers done by the schools that involved selling products from local businesses (mums, poinsettias, etc.), having fun events for the kids such as dances and carnivals, or raffling/auctioning items from local businesses who are so generous in their support for our schools. I will back these types of fund-raisers 100 percent and encourage them to continue.

But when it comes to selling stuff (whether it be cookie dough, candles, wrapping paper, or anything else) through a third-party, non-local company, I’m asking parents to do something different to make a difference. Please consider making a direct donation to the school. Instead of asking your friends and family to buy something they don’t need or want, ask them to also make a small donation to the school. By doing this, 100 percent of your money will go to the school to purchase what is needed for a successful school year. Talk to your kids about this decision – explain where the money is going and why it is needed. Together, we can raise the funds the schools so desperately need, teach our kids a valuable lesson in charitable giving, and put an end to the fund-raisers that so many seem to dread.

Kelly Pulliam Ballance blogs about family nutrition at

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