Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Either This Or I Start Drinking

I am turning into that women. You know the one. The one all amped up on school spirit that you try to dodge at the supermarket and when you're getting your gas? That's me now. And here's why.

Last spring, I was elected (and by elected I mean that no one else wanted the job) to the PTO Board as the Secretary and I was optimistically excited. I was ready to get in there and mix it up and find new ways of doing things and just be more involved in my son's elementary years. The other board members and I met regularly over the summer, planning activities and fundraisers that would bring our school the fun and money we needed to purchase a new (and desperately needed) piece of playground equipment. I felt extremely confident that we could do this job, do it well, and get what we wanted.

Yeah, about that? I was WRONG.

Yesterday was our first fundraiser, The Fun Run, and we were hoping for a raging sucess. We visited various PTO websites from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY who swear that this is the main fundraiser they do and it brings in anywhere from $15,000-$25,000. We were STOKED. We desperately want this equipment for our kids because they deserve it and a lot of them worked hard for it last year. It's very disheartening to try and explain to a 9-year-old why the playground wasn't installed over the summer because, well, their family bought 5 school shirts last year and isn't that enough? Not quite. By about $75,000. But whatever.

Anyway, we planned to really advertise the Fun Run at the first PTO meeting. You know the first meeting, where every kinder mom is there with her yellow pad and poised pen, ready to sign up for every committee and offer her undying support? Um, ours was attended by about 25 people. In a school of over 800 students. In a nice neighborhood. Where people have picket fences, a dog and all of their teeth.

We sent home fliers, money collection envelopes, and did everything we could to make the Fun Run a success.

But it wasn't.

We made about $4,000, which I'll take, don't get me wrong. But seriously? WHERE IS THE SCHOOL SUPPORT? How can we do what we're trying to do, which everyone agrees is a good idea, if we can't get people to show up and participate? It's so frustrating! And now I feel like crazy PTO lady because when you have to stand in the hallways of school and have parents yell at you over the $5 PTO membership fee, and then these same people won't come and help, WHAT THE FREAK DO YOU DO? Yeah, I'm all sorts of riled up.

And here's the thing; yes, I am more invloved this year than I have been the past two, but I always collected the money, bought the books, did whatever I could to support the school even if I wasn't attending every meeting with my three small children. How do you get people involved when they'd really just rather sit and complain about how they could do it better?

So our next fundraiser happens in a few weeks and where I used to feel rather confident, I now feel like it's just going to be another huge drain on my time and resources only to be poorly attended. How's that for school spirit?

Anyone out there with PTO experience who can offer some advice? Cause I'm all tapped out and it's only the middle of September, which I'm thinking is a bad sign. HELP, PLEASE!

One bright note: they playground should be installed just in time for our kids to take their grandchildren to play on.


Elizabeth said...

You make me laugh (WHAT THE FREAK DO YOU DO?). :)
Here's to wishing. you. lots. of. success.

LOTS I said.

I love reading your blog.

Puerto Rican Princess said...

Thanks Elizabeth! You made me smile on a not-so-smiley day.

Kelly said...

Yikes! How frustrating for you! Our school does a "walk-a-thon" every year and it always does well... last year I think they made $15,000. It takes place on the school field, they hire a DJ, & give out cheap prizes kids like as they walk around the field. They give every child that raises $50 a t-shirt, $100 donation gets you a t-shirt and ten dollar gift card to target. They're goal is to get $50 dollars of donations from each family. We only have 433 students, so it's a pretty good fundraiser for us. Maybe you could point out that ALL the money goes towards to the school whereas those wrapping paper/gift sales only give 50% and are a pain in the neck to sell and are a waste of money. Kudos to you for participating! It's a huge pain in the badonkadonk, but you should feel good knowing you're helping Spencer and his school.

Tharker said...

Um...I'm one of those lazy parents and I'm sorry for not being more supportive. What do you need me to do for the next one? I'm all yours!

dandee said...

I can't believe more people didn't show up! Ryan's cousin swears by this fundraiser. They live in Las Vegas and raise crazy moola every year for their school. Maybe pushing one or two main fundraisers stong will yield better results than having a lot of smaller ones. I think you're great for being so dedicated!:)

Jessica said...

Our school doesn't have fund raisers. At the begining of the year they have a "Direct Solisatation Campain". Basically they send a letter home asking you to donate what ever you can, at first I thought it was weird, but not having to buy wrapping paper at twice the cost AND knowing that EVERY penny goes to the school is nice. From what I see people give pretty freely when there is no commitment attatched!

Lindsay said...

Hey, that's a pretty good idea, Jessica.

It's sad that our school is so apathetic. I'm guilty of it as well. I haven't been to any of the PTO meetings.

Hopefully we can all turn things around though. I would like to see OUR kids actually be able to play on the new playground set!

Michele said...

Going to private school makes me a 13 year veteran, we sold the dreaded worlds finest chocolate for both grade school and high school. As I recall, we had to each sell two boxes. The more you sold, the more prizes you got. I remember kids getting huge tvs, bikes, nintendos (or maybe it was Atari's). Anyway, the thing was, there was always a couple of families who got really into it and sold all of the chocolate so the rest of us only had to do the minimum...and then there were the parents who just bought their kid's candy so they didn't have to sell it. Either way, the school made money. It sucked but it happened only once a year. In grade school we also did the jog-a-thon and you got a hash mark on your arm for every lap you did. You had sponsors who sponsored you for every lap etc. It was really fun and we loved it every year. Hope that helps.

Melissa said...

When we were in Hermiston the school did a Boys Vs. Girls fundraiser. They bought some kind of stamp that they put on the sidewalk. For every quarter that the boys brought in they put a blue stamp down. The girls, pink. It wasn't a HUGE fundraiser, but I know they had over $1,000 in quarters! Red was so devastated when the girls path was longer... it was a really motivating thing.
I really don't have any other ideas. I know that sometimes a fundraiser needs to be established over time. Does that make sense? Something that the community knows comes around every year...
Actually, Family Fun magazine had a big article about this a few years ago... and they were ones where 100% of the money went to the school... I'll see if I can find some info for you

Marilyn said...

Our school does a jogathon every year, and it raised $12,000 last year. We have a little over 400 children in our school, so I guess that is pretty good.

One thing you mentioned is that there is a $5 charge to be a member of the PTO. I was under the assumption that those organizations are supposed to be free, well, at least at our school it is.

Our PTO pushes really hard to get parents involved, and makes phone calls to ask parents to help. Today I will go help at the book fair, because they called me and asked me to work there. I guess what I am trying to say is that being on the PTO board means you have to be pushy and EXPECT people to help.

Kind of sucks that we parents have to be asked to help out our kids, huh?

Heather said...

Wow all the things I have to look forward to!

Sarah said...

I liked what Jessica said her school did too. I think people would be willing to donate to a specific cause, especially if they knew exactly where the money was going. I know I would rather do that than buy candy and expensive wrapping paper. There are a lot of people who would rather just donate money to the school than buy things they don't need. But I understand your frustration, I was involved in a lot of fundraisers and things in high school and it does get discouraging, but try to concentrate on the good you are doing.