Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear Passive Fundraisers

Dear Passive Fundraisers,

For Dear Son's preschool PTO this year, I am in charge of you, also known as 'those labels you cut to send to school'.  These include Box Top Labels, Labels for Education, Coke Rewards, and Tyson's A+ (as well as empty ink cartridges for recycling).  This is a way for these corporations to give back to our schools, and also a way for their products to shout, "Buy Me!"  Here are my Top Ten Passive Fundraiser Insanity Highlights:

10. No matter how many times I tell Dear Husband which boxes NOT to throw away before I cut the $#@% labels, he never remembers. #maritalstress

9. I have a stack of recycled ink cartridges as tall as I sitting in my garage because I have been too lazy to find out what I'm supposed to do with them to get some cash for our school. #whensthelastdayofschool

8. Coke Rewards makes you type in a 14 digit/letter code from box packagings or bottle caps on its website to earn points for redeeming catalog items. #iwenttocollegeforthis

7. I must touch those sticky bottle caps that may have been recapped after someone drank from the bottle. #germalicious

6. Getting bags and bags of labels from preschool parents is like I'm going to preschool all over again. #endlesssortingactivity

5. I re-cut most labels because they look like canines/felines cut them out. #myocdatwork

4. Meeting a point-redemption deadline with hundreds of labels to glue onto gridded sheets is so much fun. #wannajoinme

3. I now have a love-hate relationship with products that have a 'label' on them. #tobuyornottobuy

2. The undeniable realization of how much work it requires to get how little back. #iamnotalone

1. To earn that extra 50 points on the Bonus Collection sheet, I will drive out to the store and buy the one missing product just to clip the label for it. #becauseimaSUCKA

And I'm sure that's when these corporations are smiling smugly at me, thinking: Yep!  That's the point!  But we still schlep along and do this, because who benefits?  Our schools and our children.  I guess that's when we parents turn a blind eye to this insanity and call it a symbiotic -- or mutually beneficial -- relationship with these corporations.

Is this what we are supposed to do, Passive Fundraisers, or am I just kidding myself?



  1. I read a book entitled "Buy Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds". It made me resent all of these programs -- they are nothing more a cheap and easy way to get into our schools so they can turn our 4 year-olds into life-long consumers of their products. (Note, I didn't "Like" the page for a reason.) Barring tossing it all in the recycle bin and asking around for $20 donations, instead, I suggest you "hire" a junior high-schooler in need of community service hours to take care of it for you (but make him/her read the book, first).

  2. Oops. The book I read was "Born to Buy". It's a quick read; and I highly recommend it, at least to spark some critical thinking on the topic.

  3. Elaine, You've touched on one of the reasons why I wrote this post in the first place. I'm just unable to turn a blind eye to this since I did take over this PTO position when we were so shorthanded. I do agree with your disdain for the culture of consumerism (read some books on this topic back in grad school education classes), but ultimately, parents are the ones who have the say of whether or not their children fall victim to it. Now if only they would all read books on this topic.

  4. Well, thank you for all of your hard work Sandra! We should get a highschooler to do it, or another mom... the three/four of us do way too much but it's volunteer work for the school and we should be proud i hope! I don't buy things because we redeem, I just buy whatever and if i get a box top or bottle top out of it, then great! I do not watch commercials unless it's on accident because i dvr everything and i try not to let my kids watch commercials but listen to what Joey said today...."oxi clean stain fighter" He saw the bottle on my washer and the bottle said oxi clean on it and he doesn't read but it didn't say stain fighter on it. I have not watched an oxi clean commercial to my knowledge but i think Sprout has commercials now...
    Anyway, that has more to do with the consumer conversation. I appreciate every gross thing you do to make a little extra money for our school. I know plenty of parents do nothing and we do so much, again, I am proud of us.

  5. Helen, Thank you! Volunteering for the PTO is my way of putting coins in my Good Karma jar. One can never have too much of it. As for the gross part, soap and water do the trick, usually after my OCD-infested imagination already ran wild. A big thanks to all your time and effort, too!

  6. Ok, we need to chat about the ink cartridges ;) It's not so bad.

    And ohhhhh the joy of recutting things. My favorite part? when people send in the WHOLE Campbell's label but leave out the part that we actually redeem. *sigh* It was a good project to do while half watching tv.

    As for the consumer culture, while we watch for the labels on what we already have in our house, we talk a lot with the wee ones about WHY we don't have nearly the number of labels that so many others do and, more importantly, why that's ok.

  7. Michelle, About those ink cartridges... Another school "donates" theirs to us, and it turns out that they are generic, and Office Max will not take those. Now I have to find another place who will "just take them." I did take the HP ones to Office Max, and I got the whole ball rolling. Finally.

    Funny, but my kids don't even know what the labels are for. I never even had a conversation with them about why I clip our own product boxes. They just know that I have all those bags of them because I am helping the preschool do a job. So as far as they know, we buy all our food because we like them, not for some label on the box.

    I did admit to going out of my way to buying a product for a bonus point sheet because the first time I turned in a batch, we had so little it was pathetic. The school that we trade Box Tops with had not given us ANY yet, so I had only 400 points to turn in, and 50 points was a big percentage of it. =)