Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Call That Fundraising?

What is the story with the teenagers and younger children standing outside the doors of Wal-Mart asking you to give them money to support cheerleading, or Boy Scouts, or whatever else they belong to? Of course I don't mind donating money to groups like this, and I love to see children of all ages find happiness in extra activites, but this whole entrapment-at-the-doors-of-Wal-Mart approach seems wrong for some reason. Here's my thought(s) on it.

Shouldn't a team or organization looking for a donation do something in order to earn it (a car wash or cookie sale, etc)? When did the Boy Scouts (whose whole reason for existing is to teach young people to be resourceful) or a HS cheerleading team, or any other group like this start going to stores and saying, "give us money," or "support us"? What is the lesson in that? And what really irks me is their parents are standing right there with them, smiling if you give the money and adding to the uncomfortable feeling if you don't.

I think in a lot of ways this is a snapshot of everything that's wrong with our up-and-coming generation: they never have to DO anything, or MAKE anything, or THINK of anything. Between the text messaging, and DVR's, and I-Pods, kids are just droning out on us, even the most scholastic-minded ones seem to lack any real, genuine creativity or communication skills. I feel like parents (some not all) who are raising children now are enabling this new trend, and never taking it upon themselves to challenge young people with conversation, or debate, or a life that isn't 100% dependent on technology. I spoke to some teachers who told me that they have students whose parents call them during class on a cell phone, when they know that the school has a no-cell-phone policy. Enable much?

I don't think it should be up to ordinary people in a community to feel obligated to "support" a group like the Boy Scouts or HS cheerleaders, etc if it's just a we-want-money-so-give-us-money arrangement. Make something for us to buy from you, put on a spaghetti dinner and work a night in a kitchen preparing meals for people to buy, operate a car wash one Saturday and spend that day running it. Get to work! Get creative! Most community members are great, but I don't blame these same people for feeling trapped and/or cornered by a group of oh-so-cute kids barracading the doors of Wal-Mart and hamstringing them for a handout. Forget that! Kids nowadays (wow, I just sounded like my grandfather) are skipping so many essential parts of the developmental process, i.e. working after-school jobs, volunteering to help out in the community, joining clubs, just talking and communicating with people to learn what that's like.

There is a difference between a handout and a donation, but that difference is being blurred. A handout is a handout, a freebie, an agreement that requires no commitment or pride. A donation is something that is earned for supplying a satisfactory service of some kind. The problem: that difference stays blurred into adulthood for too many teenagers now. Nobody wants to work anymore. Every 22 yr. old wants the corner office right out of college. There's no EARNING IT anymore. And I blame everybody for that: the kids, the parents, the teachers, all of them. Way back when I was in grade school (wow, I just sounded like my dad), I used to sell candy bars door-to-door, walking my entire neighborhood everyday after school hawking them overpriced crunches and peanut butter treats for the 5th grade class trip. I wanted to sell the most product and win that limo ride to McDonald's. Well, I didn't win that limo ride (I came in 3rd place in the grade), but I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that I wasn't competing against myself for success, I was competing against everybody else out there, and if I wanted to rise to the top of anything, I had to outwork everyone else involved. There were no handouts or free passes. That year we went to NYC for our class trip, and I really felt like my fingerprints and sweat from all those nights of knocking on doors made that trip happen, and I have never forgotten that.

What's the lesson nowadays: Make enough people, going in and out of Wal-Mart, guilty enough to give you money to support whatever group you represent? Good lesson.

There's a difference between a handout and a donation.

Brian Huba

1 comment:

  1. I remember having to sell candy, particularly how awful I was at it. Growing up, I lived in a semi-rural area, and would have to walk quite a way between houses. I remember one particular house was set back a good quarter of a mile from the road, and after walking all the way to the door with my little brother, each of us dragging a giant box of candy, the person who lived there looked out the window and shooed us away without even opening the door.

    Usually, my dad would end up buying the majority of the candy and we'd have a pantry full of overpriced Butterfingers all year. But, he would make us go out and walk the neighborhood before doing so, and would make us "buy" any candy we ate out of our allowance.

    I agree that a lot of people my age have a sense of entitlement, but I'm okay with it, because it means that those of us that work hard will just have that much more of an advantage.