Warning:  the following words may cause your blood pressure to skyrocket.

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Relay for Life

This is not a jump rope chant or one family’s shopping and activity list for the weekend.  No.

This is actually a list of ways for schools, sports, and charities to raise money through kids.  The filling out of forms is always involved as well.  Yay.

Sometime between my high school graduation and my first child’s first day of kindergarten, a sea change occurred in American public life.  Children were no longer simply kids.  They were tiny unpaid footsoldiers in massive door-to-door sales and fundraising campaigns. 

Not-so-gamely playing along, raising money for Little League and the elementary PTO, the American Cancer Society and the local basketball program, I’ve tried to avoid having our boys hit up the neighbors too often.  Godparents and grandparents, aunts and uncles are always a soft touch, but you can only go to that well so many times.

So when Bat-a-Thon time rolled around again, we suggested that Malcolm and teammates collect contributions from shoppers at Trader Joe’s.  

At first, too shy to speak up,  they stood quietly and hoped people would magically drop money in their collection cans. 

Quickly, they they learned to make the “ask” and approach people with a couple of steps.  Two of them had coffee cans, the third made a sign that said “Support our Little League.”  Malcolm even tried inhaling helium from the TJ’s balloons so he could hit people up in a Munchkin voice.  And of course, to maximize the cuteness and credibility factor, they wore their uniforms and caps.

The beauty of this system is that nobody HAS to give, and when they do, the amount they give is entirely up to them – unlike Girl Scout cookies, which now cost $73/box.  The boys became better pitchmen, and practiced math skills by counting and divvying up their take.   

They learned a bit about human nature.  Some people will gladly give special amounts like half-dollars and five-dollar-bills, some people know very nice ways to say “no,” and others avoid eye contact and take evasive action.

The results?  Grand slam!  More than $150.  And as a bonus:  no relationships were harmed in the collecting of this money.


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