Editorials and Opinions

South takes the “fun” out of “fundraising”

By Alice Lee and Kyle Remy
Published: December 2008

Money is on everyone’s mind; there’s really no way around it in our day and age’€and the student population is no exception to this maxim.

Finance has always been an issue for student organizations and clubs; after all, they need money to function, and often they need a great deal of it. Club merchandise, events and competitions to raise awareness or showcase talents, and donations to charitable organizations all require funding. Unfortunately, while raising these funds is a top priority for the students who need them, not everyone senses this necessity.

Last year’s bake sale ban was a big blow to student fundraising. Brenda Keegan, the Deputy Superintendent of Schools, announced this debilitating change in a letter to club advisors, saying that “although students might feel that chocolate sells better than granola bars, we have to guide them in the healthy direction.

Keegan also enforces the Newton Public Schools’ Wellness Policy, approved by the School Committee in 2006, which states that “All foods available in the Newton Public Schools will comply with the current USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Newton Life threatening Allergy Policy guidelines.

Also, federal law bans food from competing with the Food Service operations in cafeterias, making competition and the health of students the primary concern of bake sales. Keegan’s only words of reassurance are that she feels  “sure that [club advisors] will find legal and healthy ways to continue raising money for [their] activities.

The prohibition of food product sales, though for legitimate reasons, is a serious setback because for many clubs and organizations it provided the backbone of funds crucial to operation.

Amrita Rao, leader of the Destination Education club, said that the boycott of bake sales has made it near impossible to earn over a certain amount of money, the club’s annual goal. Destination Education aims to earn around $2,000 per year for donations to different sources; this year, they plan to donate to the rebuilding of a school and orphanage in Ghana.

Bake sales brought in about 10 percent of the club’s funds, and they now rely on other methods. These methods include selling Destination Education shirts and inviting artists to hold public performances. So far this year, the club has raised $800.

Rao added that apathy is a disconcerting problem when it comes to achieving the club’s goals. Many students are unwilling to give money to causes without recieving some kind of reward or premium for their donation. Although such rewards went against the club’s objectives, they did raise donations for a worthy cause.

Sophomore Andrea Braver lent a hand in raising money for the sophomore class event. She and several class officers wheeled around large water bottle coolers after school, selling cold bottled water for $1 each. “We barely made anything at all, Braver said. “We were only allowed to sell the water after school ended. The school policies of no beverage or food items sold during school hours and force students to leave if they do not participate in after-school activities caused the fundraiser to sputter.

For the Community Service Club, a good deal of the money they raised came from selling baked goods and candy bars to the student population. Cutler housemaster Donna Gordon advises the club and says that $800-900 a year go to an annual soup kitchen project. With food sales victim to last year’s ban, however, Gordon admitted that she “[doesn't] know how we’re going to raise the money. She admits that her club is “going to have to be creative.

According to Gordon, the Community Service Club will apply for a grant from the PTSO, which, according to an August 2007 memo sent to South faculty, staff, parents, and students, sets aside “a substantial portion of its budget for projects that “promote student learning, foster personal connections, pilot a new program, or provide for participation in community service activities. The Cutler housemaster added that the PTSO is generous in rewarding these grants.

Lisa Honeyman, coach of South’s award-winning Speech Team, seems likewise confident that the team will find other ways of raising money. The food products ban spelled an end to the Speech Team’s lollipop sales, a tradition that had been proliferated for about ten years.

But Honeyman noted that the team will be hosting a speech tournament in January, which will cover their financial needs. For the forensics coach, at least, fundraising is apparently not a major concern.

Lenny Libenzon, a Goldrick House guidance counselor, feels similarly unperturbed. He claimed that in his seven years of overseeing clubs and student organizations, the process of raising money has seemed fairly easy. No other bans on fundraising are emplaced except for a ban on raffles, he said, and the only supervision for student fundraising projects is by the respective club advisors. “I think it’s just really important to have an opportunity for kids and clubs¦ and it’s been working, Libenzon commented.

The levels of concern surrounding fundraising among administration and students vary greatly. Many faculty and staff are not extremely concerned about their clubs raising money this year. Many students, however, find themselves frustrated and worried about how they’re going to reach their fundraising goals and “beat the system. Fundraising fuels clubs and organizations, enabling them to donate, reach out, learn, and compete.

The regulations, however, have left student clubs and organizations with empty hands and churning minds as students opt to cleverly compensate for such fundraising obstacles. Students scramble to rethink fundraising ideas and techniques that have proven so effective in the past. Financial needs shouldn’t be the greatest concern’€but they play a key role in empowering people in our day and age.

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