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I was recently stopped on my way into the grocery store by two girls, who gave bright smiles and said very quickly:
"Excuse me?" I asked. They tried again, more slowly.
"Would you like to donate money to help our soccer team go to Miami?" They held out their can expectantly.
I almost reached into my pocket for a dollar. After all, they were from my own community, and as a woman and mom I'd much rather see girls playing soccer than hanging out in the mall. The only problem was that they were not selling candy bars, not washing cars, not having a spaghetti supper fundraiser. In fact, they were begging.
This is happening more and more often, probably to you, too. You are accosted on your way into a store or office by perfectly able-bodied teens and young adults asking for donations to help them go on a school trip, a soccer tournament, a dance convention. They are nice-looking kids engaged in a constructive pastime.
The only problem is that they have confused "fundraising" with simply asking people for money, and I wonder if it is our fault. We have been asked to buy flag pins, address return labels, wrapping paper, popcorn, candy bars and magazines. We've sponsored kids in walking, running, jumping and hula-hooping. If we present a special card at the store, our special cause will receive a (minuscule) percentage of the sale. Haven't we all said at some point, "Enough already! Can't I just make a donation?"
It's easier to write a check than throw out candy bars. I don't really need any more return address labels. And our kids would rather receive gift cards as presents, so we don't even need wrapping paper anymore. It's no wonder that the whole process of fundraising has been stripped down to its essentials: money.
But somewhere in that "show me the money" ethos we have lost out on one of the most satisfying aspects of fundraising: working. My daughters' friend washed countless cars to raise money to go on a mission to Peru one summer. The Cub Scouts sell popcorn to pay for their trips. The Irish dance school has our kids working overtime around St. Patrick's Day in shows that pay for competitions year-round.
That is fundraising. And as annoying as it can get, it's more productive for our kids to earn the money than just stand around with a can, begging.
I guess this is really a lesson I've learned about the value of supporting all the various causes and fundraisers. When I buy the product or stop to have my car washed, I'm teaching those kids that they are capable of earning their own way. And that's a better lesson than, "Don't bother me, here's the money."
-- Katrina Lazenby, Palm Harbor
Re: planned narrowing of Clearwater-Largo Road to two lanes.
Has the Largo city manager or Largo City Commission ever used this corridor or stopped and watched the road? It averages 25 cars per minute at 10 a.m., 80 cars at 5 p.m., not counting the mail truck stops and school bus stops every two minutes, much less the number of ambulances traveling to and from Largo Medical Center and Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater. Picture all this in one lane.
As for businesses on this road, what business owner would want less traffic traveling in front of their stores? Fewer cars equals fewer customers and less taxes back to the city.
Just regrade and repave what you have: four lanes.
-- Jeff and Patricia Karpel, Seminole
Kudos to the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department for bringing to the area a fine repertoire of classic plays through its theatrical arm, Stage Agenda.
The current production of The Sea Gull, and earlier productions of Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, to name a few, offer great learning and entertainment opportunities for both local actors and audiences. They can experience plays that are usually done only in a university theater program or classic regional theater.
Let us hope they have continued success with this much-needed and appreciated program.
-- Sheila Wessner, South Pasadena