Filler: Kids' fundraisers should go straight for the cash
I don't usually pray over my meals, sad to say, but this past week has been an exception.
"God," I implore each evening as I sit down to a dinner of Girl Scout cookies, frozen cookie dough, kosher chocolates, oranges, grapefruit and caramel kettle corn, served on a decorative placemat made from Sally Foster wrapping paper, "I need your help. Please come into my home, whenever you're not too busy with plagues and injuring members of my beloved Yankees, and destroy all this fund-raising @#$%.
"Smite it wrathfully, gorge on it yourself while you watch 'Real Housewives of Sodom and Gomorrah,' do with it what you will. But get it out of my house and out of my life!"
It starts off simply enough in our house, with the Girl Scout cookies my daughter hawks (and harasses me into hawking). Girl Scout cookies aren't in the same category as other fund-raising items because, well, Girl Scout cookies are more like cocaine. You don't really sell Tagalongs and Samoas. They sell themselves.
So making our cookie goal isn't hard, but it does create problems. Because soliciting in the workplace is frowned upon, I have to dwell in stairwells, wearing my pimp hat and whispering "Hey, sport, you look like a player. How'd you like to play with a case of Thin Mints in four to six weeks?"
The bigger issue is that having worked my office mates into some chocolatey deliciousness and out of $4 per box, they have sales projects of their own. And unlike Girl Scout cookies, everything they're selling -- and everything else I'm selling for my daughter's other activities -- is ridiculous.
One co-worker hit me up the second she paid me for her cookies, with a sly, "Speaking of extorting other people to support your child's activities, how would you like to give me $20 for a case of oranges my kid's selling for band?"
"What if I give you $40 and you promise not to bring me a case of oranges?" I replied, but she wouldn't bite and I was sucking citrus. It's my least favorite, because the case of oranges sits in the corner and glares as I jam sleeve after sleeve of frozen Thin Mints down my gullet. Do you know why you never see oranges sold by the case at the Stop & Shop? Because nobody wants a freakin' case of oranges.
She says she'll be selling both frozen cookie dough and frozen pizza dough in the coming months, but since I'll be moving magazine subscriptions and kosher chocolates, who am I to complain?
My daughter also sells door-to-door and to family members, because they can't say no and avoid a toxic Thanksgiving showdown, but I move product at the office too, because it's easier than following behind her, mile after mile, as she canvasses the neighborhood.
What's most galling about the setup, though, other than the fact that I may actually get gallstones from eating all this garbage, is that selling this stuff is not a terribly efficient way of raising money for kids' activities. By the time you pay the cookie bakers and the orange growers and the truckers and the kosher chocolate inspectors and the corn kettle operators and the cardboard box manufacturers, there's typically only about half the money raised going to jamborees and marching band uniforms.
What I'd love to see these fundraisers put on their forms is a box that says, "I don't want any grapefruits, thanks, but here's a bunch of cash to go straight to your activity."
Just imagine, as bathing suit season approaches, how much you'd willingly pay a kid to not bring you two five-pound tubs of cookie dough.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.