Darren Doyle, Editor
I was in the first grade at Brownsville Elementary School in 1982. We had just completed our school fundraiser of World's Finest Chocolate...and I'm talking about those huge bricks of chocolate with the "Buy 1 Whopper Get 1 Free" coupons. These candy bars made a joke out of the ones the kids sell today. The ones today are exactly half the size of those we packed around in the cardboard box with the do-it-yourself handle.
We were all seated "Indian-Style," not "criss-cross applesauce" in the kickball lot, remember? You know, the lot that had the red stars spray painted so we would know where to stand while doing armrolls? ("good and straight!") Mr. Cassady took the mic and was about to announce the winners. Someone's life was about to be changed. If you'd sold a certain amount of candy bars, your name was put in various drawings. Pretty much everyone that sold a box at least got a Bulldogs duffle bag, which I wish I still had... The grand prize was a new BMX bike that was parked there, glistening in the sun, making a 6-year old boy drool. The runner-up prize was almost just a good...a Magnavox Boombox with cassette deck. There were other prizes, too, but these were the cream of the crop.
Not sure about the other prizes, but my name was drawn when the boombox was given away and I took that bad boy home. I listened to that thing everyday for 14 years. It was a major part of my childhood, and after the tape deck finally broke and the radio dial stopped working, (stuck on Kix 104) my dad gave me 10 bucks for the speakers alone to put inside his car. This thing was built to last, and winning it caused me to try to step up my game each year when it came time for fundraising.
Ok, back to reality. My daughter brought home the info on her current school fund raiser, a "Smart Savings Card." Not as cool as a brick of chocolate, but that's ok, I guess. Here are some prizes offered for selling certain quantities, and I looked up the value of each one (if anyone on Earth ever wanted to buy one.) There are 9 prizes available, I'll start at the bottom:
Selling one card gets you "Nerd Glasses With Mustache Siren Whistle," $1.89 (that's for both)
Skip to number 5. Selling 5 cards gets you an LED Disco Bulb (says it's retail is $12.99, but you can buy them all day for $4.95.)
The top three prizes are as follows: 1. a set of headphones that my daughter won in the last fundraiser, worn twice, then broken--ended up in the trash. 2. A portable speaker you can plug a phone, music player, etc to, that's a no-name brand. I googled it, and found it for $29.99. And lastly, 3. The so-called "grand prize," which is an off-brand art set, easily purchased for $19.99 or less, anywhere in the world. Not sure why it's the top prize instead of the speaker-thing, but whatever.
What in the world??? Why would any kid want any of this crap when they have more stuff to keep them occupied than I did when I was in college?? Xboxes, PlayStations, 4-wheelers, phones, iPads, laptops, big screen tv's...and that's just what some kids have in their bedrooms!! Some kids today go on 2 or 3 vacations a year and you're trying to motivate them with a box of crayons?? "I know Johnny next door is going on another Disney Cruise, but here's a disco bulb...you and your sister go put on some Bee Gees records and have a party in your bedroom."
I don't fault the schools...they have to have fund raisers, and they choose the best company for their needs. It comes down to the ease of selling a desirable product and making the most money from it. I know my daughter doesn't want any of these things, she tried to sell a few to close family members, and my wife sold one or two I think, but the point is, she's not motivated to sell these items for a handful of crappy flea market gifts.
I know boomboxes and BMX bikes probably wouldn't work today, but look at the monetary values of those items in 1982. You could buy a quality boombox in 1982 for about $60. That's the same as about $145 today. Likewise, you could've purchased a nice bike back then for about $90, which is around $220 today. You can purchase a nice tablet for around $220 or lower, and $60 would buy a nice phone/device case. Just some suggestions for the big fund raiser companies.
Ok, I'm finished. I'm going to go pop some wheelies then crank up some "Tears For Fears."