My poor dad. My poor mom. Our poor neighbors. There were seven of us kids. We were not all in school or at the same school or playing the same sport at the same time, but one of us must have always been fundraising for something. I vividly remember boxes and boxes of M&M’s going missing. And yet, the fundraising envelope remained empty. My parents paid for every last box of those expensive fundraiser M&M’s. Good one, soccer league. I also remember that crazy, overly enthusiastic sales guy showcasing all of the prizes elementary students could win if and only if you sold enough random crap to your neighbors and family members. They can’t say no, right? Wrong. We would beg our dad to take the sign-up form to his break room at work. He eventually would. Surely his co-workers would go nutso about the wrapping paper and gummi bears. Fancy gummi bears, that is. You can imagine the disappointment when the order form finally would return home with only a few names on it. Maybe the ones who just couldn’t resist the deals? Or felt sorry for that lonely ordering form hanging on the bulletin board. I do think I “won” a plastic Nerds candy container one time for my lame fundraising attempts. Never the Mickey mouse phone. Or the gumball machine. Or the walkman. Oh, the walkman. Maybe I did win a walkman. Or it may have been a present. I drove my sisters crazy singing the “Bodyguard” soundtrack every night. AND I will always love you. And so on.
It’s just not really practical or effective or safe or well-received to go door-to-door fundraising anymore. I will never forget my sister and I walking door to door in our tartan plaid Catholic skirts as highschoolers. We would alternate who would talk and do the spiel for whatever we were selling. Probably magazines. It was getting old fast, the failure, the unanswered doors. The quandary, “should we ring the doorbell or not?” We walked up a long secluded driveway. That should have been our first clue. It was unfortunately my turn to talk at this house. As we made it to the front of the house, we noticed a man outside gardening. Naked. Instead of turning and running the opposite direction, my sister nudged me, it was my turn to talk. I began awkwardly fumbling over my words stating that we were selling magazines or whatever. I should have just stated the obvious, “We’re selling magazines. And you’re naked. Completely naked.” Maybe he felt sorry for us. He grabbed a garbage bag and covered up his junk. I gave him the order form. And I remember his bare butt walking towards the front door. We quickly speed walked away. I never, ever, ever have wanted to be a door-to-door saleswoman. I learned the hard way that there are too many unknowns. Will the person be creepy, pissed, overly talkative, or naked? You just never really can know.
Unfortunately, my kids now have my negative fundraising history to unknowingly combat. Tonight when I remembered that the walk-a-thon was tomorrow and we had done NO fundraising, I forced my boys to call their grandparents and ask if they would like to support them in their walk-a-thon. “What are you walking for?” I don’t know, they answered. “How long are you walking?” I don’t know…again. I’m pretty sure raising money for the PTA will never go down as one of my strengths as a parent. Hopefully, my kids won’t hold it against me. Similar to the stories shared of walking miles in the freezing cold snow to school, I will pull a fundraising story from my stash. At least you don’t have to walk door to door with a rehearsed speech, only to get turned down or wish that you had been turned down. Nervously waiting at the door, wondering if you are going to get chewed out or denied. Or worse, asked to come inside for some marzipan. Or even worse, stumble upon a naked gardener. Yep. Naked. The thought of him gardening naked still weirds me out to this day. Even if he was in his own yard, his very secluded hidden from the road yard. So, tonight, I repeated history. I did what my parents must have done time and time again. Times seven kids. I wrote a check to the school. So, walk your little hearts out, boys. Your grandparents and parents fully support you.