Sunday, May 26, 2013

I put the "FUN" in "fundraising." And other lies I tell myself.

On Friday night I whipped up one of those triangle flag banner/bunting/garland things that people are forever pinning on Pinterest. I had a million other more pressing things to do, but it was nice to take an hour and play around with my new serger and scraps of fabric. It helped that I was simultaneously watching X-Men: First Class.

The banner turned out well.

I have no photographic proof of this, since I forgot to take a photo. But I do have one of Ezri!

I made the banner/bunting/garland (really what is the correct phrase?!) to decorate the table at the mall where the boys were selling raffle tickets for their swim club on Saturday.

[NOTE: if you are a local reader and are interested in the chance to win an iPod or iPod mini, please send me an email and I'll hook you up. The tickets are 3 for $5.]

In addition to that volunteer duty, on Saturday our family spent a few hours at a work bee for the local arts centre. A few weeks ago we participated in the community clean-up day. For the last month, Zarf's been knocking on doors sellling bedding plants, a fundraiser for his skating club.

I justify all these activities as homeschool lessons in social studies, civics and community building. But these duties, coupled with the frustrating task of applying for a government grant, has left me feeling decidedly pissy. Not because I resent the concept of volunteering my time and energy to organizations, clubs or causes that I value. Rather, I'm frustrated by the large number of people who don't do their fair share of the heavy lifting, but reap the benefits of others' efforts. I fantasize about throwing my hands up in the air, stepping away from my commitments and telling them to pick up my slack for once. But I damn well know that will not shock some people out of their sloth.

But still. It's a comforting fantasy.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone manned a table, picked up some garbage, helped me figure out the difference between a balance sheet and a financial report, painted a wall, sold some raffle tickets or knocked on some doors? Or at the very least, made a big fat donation to the community group of their choice?


  1. Prime example of 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    Many moons ago when my son was in Little League I kept score for his team, helped in the concession stand and sold raffle tickets - but not all at the same time. I wondered if half the kids were orphans as their parents didn't attend one single game all season.

  2. Preaching to the choir. The proverbial last straw was last week when I got permission forms for the boys' classes' field trip to the museum. Jake's teacher had included a volunteer release form, with a sticky note that said "Interested in coming with us?" Listen, lady. Between the two classes there are 70 kids. That means potentially 140 parents. I already do SO GODDAMN much for the school, someone else can ride the goddamn bus. NO I AM NOT INTERESTED. I didn't sign the "yes I can volunteer" form, and two days later Mark came home to say "Mom, we don't have enough volunteers, can you come?" NO. I refuse out of principle. I said I would wait until Tuesday (trip is on Wednesday) and if they still didn't have the eight volunteers then MAYBE. But I think they've found them. I HAVE LIMITS.

  3. Oh yes amen to all that. Our school is small less than 400 kids and I have been on the parent council for years and it is really just four of us doing everything. It gets very frustrating, but I know I would never actually quit.

    Can we please see the banner...

  4. Can so relate! Although I never volunteer at the kids' school because I have so much else (much of it volunteer) going on and I work with refugees which means the line between "work" and "personal time" is so blurred as to be nonexistent. It's not exactly a job, more of a lifestyle. And I volunteer at my church at least twice a month, sometimes 3 times. But my point is--perhaps, perhaps, some of the people you perceive as never volunteering are feeling as totally overwhelmed as I am? I can't add another thing because I'm behind on everything as it is, but I'm sure other parents (choir, the criminal law field trip downtown, etc) might judge me as non involved. Just a thought. But I admit I wonder why I'm volunteering in so many areas at church when there are tons of people there...

  5. Amen to all that. Both husband and I work FT outside the home and yet, we both find time to volunteer in oldest's classroom once a month, I am on the PTA board, and husband is on the foundation. We don't have a nanny or undemanding jobs. If we can find time to do these things, I absolutely refuse to believe that WAY more people can't. They just can't be bothered and it's frustrating as hell. I know volunteering is lopsided, but sometimes the fact that the same 30 people do almost everything in a school of nearly 500 kids seems ridiculous. I just wish more people cared enough to try.

  6. I enjoyed this article and now feel I'm much more updated on what an active mother and community member must feel. I will admit I am the one that sits at the Garden Club meeting white knuckling the table hoping I do not get volunteered for anything. For the record I have only been to one garden club meeting and there were only 4 people in attendance. However I do remember my days as a junior athlete and can sympathize the pressure put on parents to "gather funds". In my day I spent a great many days hustling some cash with crates and crates of chocolate covered almonds that I would sell in front of grocery stores, complete with a fanny pack full of change and team jacket. It took a lot of work but I made my quota...just barely.

    So since I am a local you can count me in for some raffle tickets. I have a not so crisp $5 bill with your name on it :) .... You know where to find me.

  7. Yep. I shelve library books, go on field trips, work the barbecue for baseball tournaments, and I throw money at the other problems. Although since there are some things I really feel like I can't do because of various types of anxiety (being on the councils or boards, for example), I always wonder what reason people have when they don't volunteer at all. Are they really inconsiderate buttheads, or do they have just cause? Nah, you're right, they're probably mostly buttheads.

  8. First off, that's what a serger is, huh? And what exactly does one do with that thing? It looks like a medieval torture device. I'm so not crafty, but I'd love to see one in action... video, maybe? I'm totally serious. I can't imagine how that and some scraps turns into a banner, unless it's witchcraft.

    As to volunteering... yeah. I work from 730 until 530 five days a week. I have three kids under eight. I still find time to coach baseball two nights a week all summer, to co-chair the school advisory council, take my turn at preschool snack day, and scrape up spare change for the interminable "green sales" various classrooms have all year long (two in May, fer gawd's sake). What chaps my ass are the parents who have the nerve to bitch and complain about certain events not happening - we haven't had a spring fling in two years due to lack of volunteers - and yet it is NEVER their faces I see pitching in, ever, for any reason.