I recently attended my very first PTA meeting. It wasn't exactly on purpose, they just conveniently included it in our Back to School Night.
It was a funny experience. As I sat there watching all of the other parents walking up, I realized...this is what my Mom must have experienced at her first school function. Sitting there, amongst a crowd of people that all had one thing in common: we all had children. It was sort of eerie. First of all, I am used to being around some single people who don't have children. And, with the exception of a handful of folks, I realized that they were all...well, let's say older. Does that mean that I am older, like them? Being only 28 years old (a very young 28 at that), I felt like I had just joined a league of some sort involuntarily.
I have the new responsibility of trying to sell all sorts of crap out of catalogs to my coworkers. I am supposed to be donating my time and money to all sorts of causes. I am going to be at events where the main subject will inevitably be: KIDS! Not that I don't love to talk about kids. I just don't want to talk about kids all the time. Let's get real. I want to talk about food all the time.
The next thing that struck me was that there weren't that many parents in attendance. I actually asked a woman next to me if this back to school night was for the whole school, or just half of it. She said that the turnout was actually pretty good. Depressing.
The evening continued on, with one PTA member after another rambling on about what they're doing this year. Events, fundraisers, stuff they want us to buy. And don't forget the pauses where the principal stepped up and gave swift translation into Spanish for those parents who had missed out on the monologues' meanings.
Now, one particular fundraiser stood out to me. The Book Fair. The book fair is going to be at our school next month, during October. The students will be able to buy books and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the school. However, in addition to raising funds by selling books (and I am guessing they won't get a big percentage of the proceeds), Scholastic is offering schools the opportunity to receive donations from their families that will go 100% into a fund for the school for future book purchases. It's like a savings account for our school. And, what's even better, Scholastic is going to match those funds, dollar for dollar, and those monies raised will go to needy schools (probably those in Louisiana right now).
So, this is an awesome opportunity, right? We can raise funds that will go directly to purchasing books for our school AND support schools in need across the USA. So, what is the ambitious goal of our PTA? A measly $1,000. For a school that supports K-6th grades, I just don't get it. They have "high hopes" that every family can donate $1. So...back to my original question. Where's the enthusiasm?
I personally hope to raise $100 by asking everyone I know to donate $1 (or more, if they can afford it). I guess it comes from my attitude. I try to give the best from myself and I try to coax the best out of those around me. So, why wouldn't you have a really grand goal, say $2,500? With around 500 families at our school, it would only take $5 per family to reach this goal.
I am probably destined to be on a PTA one day. Which totally freaks me out. I hardly have enough time to cook, bake and craft as it is now! Bottom line is that I will probably always be able to do more than they ask. And nothing is too much to ask when it comes to supporting the school that my son attends. If we don't support the school, who will? As my son's kindergarten teacher puts it: they're poor.
On a separate but related note: Box Tops for Education. I never really understood what those little coupons on some of my grocery store items were for. Well, it turns out, if I collect them and give them to my son's school, the school can then turn them in for money! Pretty neat trick, huh? (And BTW, can I redeem any? :-) Just kidding!) Anyway, if you have any of these and don't already give them to a local school...please, please start saving them. If I had known that they could make a difference to my son's school I would have started saving them long ago. If you want to mail them to me, send me an email and I'll give you my address. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ok...REALLY, no more about school. Tomorrow I'll be back to my usual food talk!