Wednesday, May 8, 2013

in which green girl puts on her ranty pants

Happyland has an excellent park.  It's located in the center of our farm town.  It's got all kinds of great amenities from basketball court to baseball and softball diamonds, pavilions, concession stands, soccer fields and even a skateboard area.  The playground equipment is sturdy, well-used and always in good repair.  You don't find much litter in this park, but on summer nights you do find lots of crowds watching and playing sports.  It's free entertainment for the spectators--for $1.50 you can enjoy a slushee and a bag of popcorn while watching little kids chase a ball around.

The park is funded by some tax dollars and the Lions Club and local Boy Scouts do a fair amount of labor raising money and completing projects to improve the park on a regular basis.  But most of the money is raised via the Happyland Athletic Association (HAA).  Their job, as I understand it, is to coordinate park activities (like leagues and tournaments), manage field and diamond maintenance, manage concession stands and designate funds.  Everyone who plays pays--an average of $45 per player.  The coaches volunteer, which means all of that money raised through player fees goes towards uniforms, umpires and park maintenance.  Ditto for the money raised at the concession stands.

A few years ago, the HAA decided to raise some more money to install a concessions stand with bathrooms by the soccer fields.  A noble goal with which I took no umbrage.  They decided to raise the money through one of those rip-off pizza/cookie dough fundraisers.  The first year I obliged and bought the required amount of pizzas to fill my family's assessment of $120 in sales.

The second year I thought Wait a minute.  This is a bullshit enterprise.  I have strong opinions about fundraisers, why am I participating in this one?  I'll just cut the HAA a check so they can keep ALL the money and I'm not stuck with crappy pizzas.  I was discouraged from doing so (I wouldn't win any of the crappy prizes offered by the fundraising company!), but I ignored the HAA's directive and "bought out" my share.  And then I realized how few players actually turned in any money--from the fundraiser or buying out.  I knew who turned in and who didn't because Mr. D coaches and I keep track of all the paperwork for him.  Asking around, I discovered that the few people actually participating in this fundraiser were also the people coaching and volunteering their time.  In other words, people already doing more than their share were paying more than their share while other people were off the hook without any consequence.

What a rip off!  In my view, if you want everyone to shoulder the financial burden for the park, you need to do it across the board--like raise participation fees or concession stand prices.

Then this week I received the directives for the latest HAA fundraiser.  Here's an excerpt:

Each family will have to sell 4-5 tickets ($5 each ticket) regardless as to how many sports or kids you have playing this summer.  Number of tickets is based on your first letter in your last name.  All this is explained in a letter.  I need all money back again by May 28th.  Remember this is not optional.  You will need to collect the money from everyone on your team.  It should be noted that if a family has say three kids playing multiple leagues, you may or may not get fundraiser info for them to handout.  Everyone that you get fundraiser info for you need to collect, this is not an optional program.  Thanks for your support.

So I asked around--is the men's softball league participating in this fundraiser?  Nope.  Is the legion baseball team?  Nope.  How about the men's baseball team?  Nope.  So, essentially only families with kids playing are funding the park--in other words, only some of the teams playing on these fields, not all of them.

And then I learned that the HAA pays bartenders for the men's softball league nights.  They pay bartenders to work in the concessions stand.  While during every other event volunteers handle the concessions stand.  Volunteers that the team's coaches have to beg to fill their assigned time slots.

And while working my kid's softball tournament last weekend I noted that they were charging $2 for a can of beer in the concessions stand.  Never mind that you cannot buy a beer for less than $2.50 at any tavern in town.  Or that the HAA pays the same amount of money for a liquor license as any other establishment.  Nope, charge next to nothing in the concessions stand, but ask the families with kids playing little league or soccer to sell raffle tickets and crappy pizzas.

Am I the only one seeing a huge discrepancy?   Apparently so because no one else is complaining.  Mind you, I'm all for park improvements and I'm happy to pay my share--but I'd rather see the money come out of raised fees and raised concessions prices so everyone's shouldering a fair share of the burden.  There's no reason why all teams shouldn't be treated the same, and by raising all the prices across the board, they would be.  Raise fees by $10 a person, raise the price of beer by $1 a can and there's be absolutely no reason to discuss fundraising.

I'm not buying any raffle tickets.  I'm turning in our unsold packet without apology and I double-dog-dare the HAA to try and squeeze more than my fair share out of me.  It's not going to happen.  It sticks in my craw that the fundraising falls on kids while the beer league gets to drink beer at discount prices.  

Spill it, reader.  Would you buy the raffle tickets or tell the HAA to stuff them? 


  1. Wow, that is really unfair! I wonder what their reasoning was, when they decided to do this?

    Really, isn't this kind of the reason we have taxing agencies? So that everyone pays their fair-share to keep the community in good shape? It amazes me how some people just won't pay their share, and it usually has nothing to do with financial stress.

    BTW, I have no idea what Happy Land is. A private school? A public school? A community center?

  2. all the fundraisers that the kids brought home from school for all those years, I never drove them around to the neighbors. The kids did once in a blue moon take them around by bicycle but rarely, the nearest neighbors were a mile away. I didn't agree with selling stuff so the school can get a little bit of the sale and the kid gets a cheapo trinket. We gave enough otherwise there was no need to do the fund raisers.
    If the entity needs the money ask, I think selling things is a rip off, not enough money goes where it is needed.

  3. wow, the many times kids have come around with crap to sell and I have said I would give a donation instead... NOPE, gotta sell the crap....and its like, well, forget it! Too many businesses trying to do what Girl Scouts have done so well. Anyway, i think you have done the absolute right thing, stuff them!

  4. I'd print out this blog post and mail it to everyone on the HAA board, the mayor/town council, and the newspaper.

    And no, I wouldn't have even bought/sold any of the crappy fundraiser stuff the first time around.

  5. This reminds me of the camp that requires Girl Scouts and leaders to clean latrines -- the same camp that hires someone to do it when Adventure Guides and fathers attend.

    I agree with Jen on the Edge. Wholeheartedly. Both paragraphs.

    Also, "ranty pants"? Love the term.

  6. I never buy any crap that kids are directed by schools or special groups or clubs they are in. I just don't like that kids have to do this. It's always seemed like child labor to me.

    You definitely did the right thing. Heck, raising the price of beer alone should take care of the financial needs!

  7. I wouldn't sell a single one. I am very particular about which fundraisers I will support. Don't back down even if you are the only one. Make them explain their rational.

  8. Couldn't agree more. I wouldn't participate either.

    Did the girl scout cookie thing for the first time this year. Most likely the last. I hate fundraisers.

  9. who comes up with this, kids selling junk? I wouldn't sell a ticket either, nor would I expect my child to go door to door selling pizza, candy, cookies, mercy! You are absolutely right, let the entire community bear the burden instead of the kids. Let the kids be kids instead of
    ' cookie-cutter business personal.'
    Have a great season....playing!

  10. From the paragraph cited there is trouble in River City, although I don't believe it is the fundraising function (my personal opinion is fundraising is never mandatory, always optional on both participation and buy-out vs buy-in) the trouble seems to be the HAA group. Are these hired positions or elected? Where does their power come from; the mayor's office, City Park and Rec? Is there a committee that puts the fundraisers together and sends out the directives. Whoever is the power source for the fundraising seems to lack oversight. By calling 'them' into question you may be volunteering for another position or board seat but you already know the other option. Please let us know how the story ends.

  11. I like the idea of printing this and sending it to the news channels ;D

  12. You are spot on in your objections, and I am really hoping you raise a stink about it.

    as for kids selling stuff? We generally don't do it at our house, although I have been impressed with the secondary financial education/empowerment aspect of girl scout cookie sales. We'll keep doing that, especially since my girl directly benefits from her sales efforts. Not the stupid trinkets, but the activities we can fund. Our troop is going horseback riding in a week, and it's all paid for by cookie money, and the girls chose how to spend it.

  13. Stuff them.

    My kid's elementary school didn't sell crap - it was just expected parents would step up and write a check for whatever you could. And if you couldn't, that was fine too. And yes, that culture also spilled over to my Girl Scout Troop, who do not sell those crappy cookies. (BTW, the girls get 60 cents out of the $4 price of the box. Not enough money for the effort....)

  14. I love it when you put your ranty-panties on! I'd tell them to stuff it too. LOL

  15. I would not buy the raffle tickets. The current system gets the kids (and their parents) to do the dirty work for the rest of the people who get to enjoy the park. Good for you for putting your foot down.

  16. I would be pissed! And yes, I'd tell them to stuff their raffle tickets. I especially hate the way the letter is worded about the fundraiser being mandatory and how families with multiple kids in sports are just out of luck too bad.

  17. I wouldn't participate if they don't track it better. Our Little League has minors and majors sell candy bars or they can do the buy out. If your money isn't turned in before the first game, you don't play.

  18. Any teams/organisations/PTA's I've ever been a part of has always had just a few people doing all the work and putting in all the money - the "others" always expect to reap the benefits though! Just this morning I've driven 40 minutes to my son's school and 40 minutes home just to deliver cakes for their fundraiser fair tomorrow which we're unable to attend (& therefore unable to help at) I'm pretty sure not many others did that! Tell them to stuff their raffle tickets!!

  19. Oh jeez, stuff them. Everyone should pay a share across the board.


Spill it, reader.