Giving Kids a Free Ride

You’ve probably seen at least one in the break-room at work, at a social function or a variety of other places: those pesky sign-up sheets for mail-order chocolate/cookies/candy/peanuts/etc. that someone’s kid has to sell for school/Scouts/baseball/a trip to Italy/etc.

Maybe you’ve even put your name (and your cash) down. I know I have. Nothing like getting junk food without even having to go to the store. And it’s for a good cause… right?


I used to sell candy for my school concert band. White chocolate Santas at Christmastime, dark chocolate bars at the beginning of the year, and trail mix tins come Spring.

I can’t remember what we used the money for. Maybe new sheet music, additional instruments, I think we went on a trip to New York City once. But I remember selling all the products myself. I’ll admit I swiped a few candy bars on the way to class or after school, but I always paid for them, documented myself as the ‘customer’ and submitted my self-produced (and full) sheet at the end of the campaign.

This isn’t a forum to pat myself on the back for being a good little salesman. The point is that I never just gave the sheet to my folks to bring to work, or got all my friends to buy the stuff (they wouldn’t have, anyway; they all had their own sweets to sell).

Sending the Wrong Message

I’m not sure if, today, many kids do any selling themselves. Why would you, when Mom or Dad can just take the sheet to work and in one day (or less) come home with a full customer list?!

Look, I understand times have changed. You can’t have Girl Scouts knocking on the doors of pedophiles, or your “li’l slugger” getting shot by some neighborhood maniac who finally reached his breaking point. Still, by continually “helping” your kids out in this way, you are denying them the very ideals fundraisers are supposed to teach them:

  • entrepreneurial skills
  • public relations
  • customer service
  • community involvement
  • a sense of accomplishment for a job well done

The only lesson they learn by the former is if there’s something you don’t want to do, hand it off to the ‘rents. Let them do the work for you. It builds character.

by Peter P. Gaseoustania
Residential Life Magazine