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PTA Fundraiser – It Takes a Village


I sat in the PTA board meeting where we were brain-storming fundraising ideas.  In the fall every year we do a walk-a-thon, where the kids run or walk laps and collect pledges from family and friends to support school programs and buy classroom materials.  But we needed a spring fundraiser and one thing was very clear - no one wanted to buy or sell useless junk.

Even if we found a fundraiser where we sold useful junk, none of us wanted to ask people for money when we knew at least half of it would go to the company we were selling for.  I came up with the less-than-original idea of doing a jump-a-thon, jumping rope for pledges.  That year the PTA had paid a large chunk of change to bring an outstanding professional jump roper in to instruct and energize the kids for our afterschool jumping program.  It seemed like a good way ato build on our investment.  And it would be easy.

Of course, since it was my idea, I was put in charge and that didn’t bother me.  We already had a good system in place from the walk-a-thon and all I had to do was adapt it for jumping.  The first year went really well.  I was pregnant but feeling good.  The second year went equally well, even with my young baby in tow.

I liked my role heading things up and organizing.  I would greet the volunteers and explain how things ran.  I got to meet a lot of great parents and speak to all the teachers and office staff. Running the jump-a-thon all week was high visibility and fairly low stress.  I would groan just a bit about all the responsibility that was involved in running a large fundraiser but honestly, it was not that much work.

Then this year rolled around and the woman who had “handled the fincances” the first two years was gone.  She had moved up with her kids to junior high.  As the jump-a-thon drew near, I realized very quickly that although I had been “in charge,” she had done most of the actual work.  She just stepped in and did what needed to be done.  And there was  a LOT to be done.  Luckily other people volunteered to help take over her responsibilities but it was eye-opening to see just how much work was being done that I, as the organizer, didn’t even know about.

We also had a new volunteer coordinator in the PTA who was more strapped for time and wasn’t able to call or organize volunteers for the event.  I found myself doing my responsibilities from the previous years along with emailing and calling volunteers.

It all worked out in the end with a little more work on my part and a lot more work from a bunch more people.  I’m grateful for that third year running the jump-a-thon.  It was inspiring to look around me and really see how much effort was being put in by so many parents, teachers, and staff to make the event a success.  We made several thousand dollars for the school and the kids had a blast.  When parents jump in and do what needs to be done, kids benefit.  Not one of us can do it alone.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.