September 9, 2010

Entertainment Books

"Today I won a trip to Sea World!!!!!!" my daughter screamed the minute she got into the car after school.

I had been wondering how my school tax dollars were being spent. Now I knew.

"All I have to do is sell 54 of these books," she said, tossing a plastic grocery bag into my lap.

Inside the bag was my best friend.


"Nice to see you again," I said to the book.

I had a similar friend in Philadelphia which I was forced to buy after one of my sons ripped out three coupons without permission.

"I'm not going to buy 54 of these books," I told my kids flatly. "In fact, I'm not even going to buy one. We never come close to getting our money's worth." Sometimes honesty is the best policy.

My daughter looked at me like I had just stabbed a dolphin.

"If you buy four books," she told me, "I get entered into a raffle to win a glow-in-the-dark hula hoop."

I hid my checkbook to avoid temptation.

That was last Thursday. Today my daughter announced that I was the only parent from her class who had not purchased a coupon book.

"The only one," she said slowly.

"I like to be unique," I replied.

"The only one," she said four more times.

If there is a prize for the student who sells the most books, I suggested that there might be one as well for the student who sells the least.

"What kind of prize?" my daughter asked suspiciously.

I encouraged her to ask her around.

47 comments

Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

I bought one of those damn books a couple of years ago. The charity fundraising people guilted me into it. I used like two of the coupons.

Now I just pass and give $ to good causes when I can.

Of course I dont have outspoken kids in the house!

Mary said...

LOL! I hate those books too. We NEVER get our money's worth. Good for you for not wasting your money! Our PTO got tired of selling junk so we hosted a fun run (5k, 2m, 1m) this year instead. WAY better than going door-to-door selling cookie dough, coupon books and wrapping paper!! I'd rather write a check to the school than buy more junk!

Kmama said...

Haha! I used to work for Entertainment! Great company, and I got the books for half price. ;-)

Life As I Know It said...

You're not the only one.

I promptly return the book the very next day.

Our PTO smartened up last year and got rid of all the sales-fundraisers. Instead, they ask for a donation at the beginning of the year. I'm much rather write a check in September and not have to deal with those silly wrapping paper/candle/crap fundraisers.

sogeorgia said...

I know what you mean... We are in the middle of a magazine sale right now. It's brutal, too. Prizes are given out each day at lunch in front of all the kids for those who turned in order forms that day. The teachers hate it because they naturally have poor little kids who get upset when they don't get a prize. I absolutely refuse to sell ANYTHING. I HATE putting pressure on people. And, let's face it, it may be for a good cause, but i you don't want it, you don't want it.

Kim Ginsberg said...

I love my Entertainment Book, but I think I should get to wear a badge or something, once I've purchased. I think every child in Ohio sells them for their school, scout troop AND church. So I can barely get through the grocery store without at least 4 offers to buy. I think I should be exempt once I've bought in.

Christine said...

My husband got set up on some sort of mailing list to buy these automatically!

All the restaurants we used to like to go to from it are now closed or have changed owners! I don't think we're getting our money's worth and one popped up on our doorstep charged automatically to our credit card :( I'm definately not buying another one so if my kids are selling them they're out of luck.

Michele Juanson said...

Stick to your guns, Meanest Mom!! I hate those books and all the other dumb fundraising catalogs, too. I too, shall refuse to let my kids pander this stuff to anyone -- just let me write a check directly to the school!

All8 said...

As a parent, this is one of my pet peeves. I despise how my children are used in such a manner. You would assume that they were there for an education, you know, reading, writing, arithmetic, right? I don't know when it became part of the curriculum, "How to make your parents pressure their friends and family into buying things of no value so that you could win some cheap prize."

(Told you it puts my knickers in a twist.)

Cristi L. said...

My kids came home with the first fundraiser of the year last week. I told them I would buy them a pack of bracelets for a buck each if we could just throw the cookie dough money maker away. It was the best fundraiser we never did!!

Skinner Family said...

As a PTA president, I choose not to do these books... just like the president before me. I feel like I wasted my money too! There was only one coupon in the entire book that I could use in my hometown.... everything else was 30 or 60 miles away!

I love Mary's idea about a fun run. We are working on that idea!

Anonymous said...

We've got to sell them this week too....haven't sold a single one because everybody else in the extended family has to sell them too! If we sell 5 of them we get one for ourselves for free though. I have to say we have saved a lot of money with them, but ours is for Greensboro so the restaurants are all close together...

Sherron said...

I am always shocked when I find out what percentage of the purchase goes to the school. The school pictures yields 2%. Only $2 of the $5 PTA fee goes directly to my school PTA. The big old carnival they did with glossy fliers and a $10 entrance fee (+food) only gave the school 15% of the profits.
I feel ripped off with these programs. I far prefer donating money for read-a-thons, fun runs, or things of that nature. I would love for the PTA to say "We need X amount of money for a new set of basketballs (or whatever it is that they need money for). I am more willing to give money when 100% of the proceeds go towards something specific.

[Stacia] said...

I actually kinda like the books! And I LOVE when kids do the wrapping paper-it's so stinkin' expensive in stores and each roll wraps one present! :( But I'm not buying a book this year so please don't send your daughter my way! :)

agent99 said...

Amen! I actually like the books, but I get so angry when my kid is put under such intense pressure to sell, only to have pennies go to the school! Grrrr. In our school, some families have very little extra cash - imagine the kid whose parent CAN'T afford to buy something - how humiliating that must be. My kids have been trained "Mom, I know you won't participate in this one". But is has given me a teachable moment to explain capitalist greed..... (Love the idea of bribery to bail on the sales program)

Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

These things make me so glad I don't know anyone with young children.

I remember back in the day when I was in school they did Scholastic book fairs for fundraisers. The Scholastic people would show up and sell books to the students with part of that money going to the school. That was nice. They also did the whole order form thing for books, but most people just gave their kids X amount of money and told them to go get something to read. (I think they tried scented candles or cookie dough one year or something like that, and my parents friends/work colleagues did buy some, but back then it was more of a "hey, my kid is selling X, forms on my desk if you're interested" instead of the whole "you must sell this or you're a horrible person" thing).

As for good fundraisers, well, this won't pass muster these days (what with candy being banned from most schools and all), but in high school whenever we needed money for a club, we'd buy a couple Costco cases of snackfood or candy and sell it to our fellow students. Everyone was always happy because it was cheaper than the vending machines, and all the money went directly to whoever was selling stuff. No middle men. We also did charity raffles/auctions, which were a huge hit, since no one was out more than a few dollars at most and/or got an item they really wanted, and it all the money went directly to the school. And plant sales. Those were nice. Not much of a return, but cheap flowers for planting.

Anonymous said...

I hate those, too. My kid's school never sold them, but I think I did as a child. We did cookie dough and other frozen dessert goods, my gosh, I almost choked when I saw the prices! $15 bucks for an 8 inch cheesecake! $13 for a tub of dough that yields 3 dozen cookies. The school is a mile away from Walmart, you can't charge those kinds of prices with Walmart right down the street! I "accidentally" lost my kids' order forms.

I'm just a girl said...

I have to agree, I hate being pressured by the neighbor children into buying a $20 bucket of cookie dough that I have no business even eating!

BUT I must confess... I love those books. It has more than paid for itself. I sold them in high school, well actually those babies sold themselves! I created a flyer and sent it to work with my dad. Sold 50 in a week. Why didn't I get a trip to Sea World?

Strate Fam said...

Oh, the start of the school fundraising. Those used to be so exciting as a kid, but then only selling four on my best year? I mean, c'mon! It's totally for the parents to sell. Good for you for not buying! (UNless of course, you'd actually use it.)

tarichuck said...

Good for you! I hate all the fund raisers that schools tell the kids they have to participate in. Especially the coupe years i was teaching-big PITA for the teachers to deal with. And I always loved the part where we were supposed to tell the kids to sell something, but they can't go door-to-door to do it. Kinds defeats the purpose of having the student do the selling.

Tricia said...

I love your blog. I read it when I am having a bad day and immediately my spirits are lifted. I have a son in middle school and two in elementary. Thankfully we haven't had those books come home (yet) but some cookie, and flower fundraisers. Not only do I have to buy the items, I have to work after they come. haha

Mal said...

Man, hearing these stories about prizes being handed out in front of other children makes me feel like our schools are run by the Stalinists--maybe slightly less paranoid Stalinists, but you get what I mean.

Long live Sovietism!

All we ever sold in any of my schools were handmade wreaths around Christmas time in my middle school. I remember selling one catalogue type thing in fifth grade, but I think they got rid of that the next year 'cause I never saw any of the fifth graders with them. We did have a fun-run every year where the people could donate a dime or more for every lap a kid ran--or the adults could sign up to run themselves and get other friends to donate. It was invariably more fun than trying to sell the wreaths.

Brie said...

Ugh. I dread the day I have to see the little girl I birthed and am attempting to raise with some dignity be made into a salesman by some sadistic school fundraiser program. *shudders* Good luck with this one!

Amber said...

HATE those books. What ever happened to the little credit card that had about 25 places on it that you could use for a discount. I liked those much better. Who wants to carry around one of those honking books? We do NOT participate in that fundraiser either. The "trial" book goes right back to the teacher immediately. I'd rather give the teacher $30.00 directly so she can use it for whatever she needs.

craftyashley said...

I am sending my kids to school with a note specifically outlining that my kids are not to come home with Entertainment books, cookie dough ordering forms, or any of the like. My kids are not salesmen. The school can suck it. They get enough of my tax $ as it is- and they can't even use THAT effectively!

vanilla said...

As elementary principal, I managed, bucking the tide, to keep this stuff out of the hands of the kiddies for eighteen years. After I retired, guess what?

Johanna said...

Hands down best fundraiser I ever did at school was as a class we made 1.5L bottles of Ginger Beer which we sold for $2 a bottle to family and friends. My Dad was my teacher at the time and had a simple recipe but it makes the most delicious Ginger Beer. We made heaps of money, people really enjoyed it and we made a 100% profit because we got all the ingredients donated. GO DAD.

It worked so well that I made Ginger Beer to sell to pay for each stage of my drivers licence. Bless.

Gigi said...

This is one of the things I hated the most about elementary/middle school - the fund raising. Dear God!! At our high school we don't have fund raisers anymore - now the school just asks us outright for cash. At least it's more honest.

LeMira said...

Personally, I think schools pick door-to-door sales fundraiser ideas because it's too easy to give to the kids and make them do the work.

Now that I've read all of the comments, I think I'm going to go make me some cookie dough. Yum!

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

I now have ten of those books sitting in the bookshelf right now. I know, I know ...

Whinespecialist said...

I didn't read all the comments BUT dare I say I LOVE them? Oh my gosh! I have 2 and have made my money back and then some! In fact, our policy now that we are trying to save money in unique ways is to only go to restaurants in the book which has been GREAT! We get to save money and have tried a few new places!! And I have been sniffing around for the new addition!!

Deb said...

My son started kindergarten this year. His school does one "fund raiser" a year- a walk-a-thon. The walk is in October. I am so thankful to not have to take my son around hte neighborhood asking for donatations. I can not use work colleagues even if I wanted as it is against company policy and I telecommute.

Love to you,

The Bus Driver said...

The only thing I buy from any kid is girl scout cookies....

Once in a while other bus drivers from work will have kids who enter in the jumprope for heart, or walk for life. I'll toss 5-10 bucks their way as a one time donation cuz its a good cause.

Anonymous said...

We moved to a new school this year and the PTA president announced: "we don't do fundraisers here." Everyone cheered. They did ask for a contribution of $25-$50/child. I paid it gladly.. now I just need to figure out how to make my own cookie dough :)

Anna said...

I hate how those people come into schools and sucker the kids into thinking they'll get prizes/trips/whatever and then guilt parents into spending more money, as if it just comes by everyone so easily. It's awful, the whole manipulation of kids and parents when there are enough distractions in school already.

MissMel said...

I think the prize for the least books should be a trip to Seaworld.

Anonymous said...

As an elementary school teacher I dislike the fundraisers that come through the schools, particiularly the entertainment books...they are definitely not part of the curriculum as some parents seem to think! However, I also see the reasoning behind the fundraising. I think the fingers are being pointed to the wrong crowd when it comes to schools being underfunded. I am going to talk to my staff about the fun run, sounds so cool!

Anonymous said...

Oops...for a teacher, I also didn't edit my post very well...particularly should be the correct word!

Francie said...

it would be cheaper to just go buy her the glow in the dark hula hoop!!

Kirsten said...

I flipped through our entertainment book and found only 3 coupons in a ten mile radius. Some of the coupons were for different states altogether. At least (and I do not exaggerate) 80% of the coupons would cost me more money in gas just to get there than I would actually save.

Rocket Ma'am said...

Our school stopped fundraising and just asked every parent to give $5 per kid. Most parents were so glad they gave $20 or more.
Best idea evah.

Jensamom23 said...

I am applauding you!

Crane said...

I just wrote about a similar incident over on my blog:
http://readtherandoms.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Our school's big fundraiser was the Magazine Drive. Man, that was the biggest deal for about three weeks. There were these fuzzy weaple things we had to wear depending on how many we sold, the Weaple counter would come around and if you had yours on, you'd get an extra. You got prizes for having so many. Sell 7 subscriptions and you got free dress for 10 days (private school, so that was a HUGE deal). The big "Prize" was some cheesy limo ride to lunch at Cici's Pizza. I only got my 7 so I didn't have to wear my uniform. But this was so elaborate and they did it during lunch. In high school, no one really cared, but in middle school, it was a big thing.

The only other one I HAD to do was for Cheerleading so we could get uniforms. And yes, it was the stupid wrapping paper, stationary crap type stuff. SO glad I don't have to go through this anymore!

Anonymous said...

I now feel good knowing I am not the only Mom out there who rolls their eyes at some school fundraising event...We get the entertainment books too, i never buy them, i find its a total rip off!
I also wanna say, i am enjoying this blog of yours, i find your kids are funny!

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Leo said...

We live in the SF bay area and have probably saved over 200 bucks the past year with the Entertainment book with movie tickets, local restaurants, and kids entertainment and even coupons for Safeway and Target.