My daughter came home from her third week of kindergarten and announced that her entire school had met that afternoon, "Even the big kids."
It was her first all-school assembly. I fantasized about team-building projects-planting trees together, a school-wide mural, a dance party. Instead, she pulled a glossy catalog out of her little purple backpack, tapped its cover and said, "If we sell enough stuff, we can have an ice cream party."
Welcome, my dear girl, to Fund-Raising 101.
The school fund-raiser is a rite of passage in American schools. Kick-off assemblies, such as the one my daughter sat through, are repeated nationwide, as a representative from a company comes and tries to turn a group of kids into excited, competitive purveyors of plastics and sugars by dangling a cheap award in front them. Think Alec Baldwin and the oft-promised knife set in Glengarry Glen Ross.
The whole thing is maddening on multiple levels. First off, there's the junk most of us don't want as we try, per Oprah and Rachel Ray's advice, to de-clutter our homes. My daughter's QSP/Reader's Digest catalog offered a Harley Davidson mug, an apple candle jar, and a jewelry cleaning kit, as well as the ubiquitous wrapping paper and chocolate.