Does Charity Start At School?

This year, neither of my children’s schools did anything for Children In Need.

Nope, nothing. No dressing up, no spots, no donations. Nothing.

And I don’t really care. Our primary school has never been much into asking the kids to dress up. To me me this is a good thing.  When you have four children, the last thing you need is two days’ notice for your child to have to dress up as an orange animal, from a country beginning with ‘Y’ or as their favourite vegetable. In this house just finding a clean uniform is a major achievement. Trying to out together costumes once a year for Halloween is enough for me, thank you very much.

So I don’t mind that our schools did nothing for CIN, but I was surprised to find that some people have very strong feelings on the subject. There was a long thread asking why we didn’t do anything on our  School Parents’ FB page, and I know ours was not the only PTA in the country that was harangued on social media for our lack of participation.

A lot of schools do participate in raising funds for CIN and other charities, but should it really be up to schools to do so? CIN is a nationwide appeal and if nothing is done at school or work, surely you can watch the broadcast on TV as a family and donate that way? Our primary school supports local charities through food donations and collection buckets at concerts and assemblies, and our secondary school encourages fund raising by pupils as part of the curriculum. Neither school is uncaring, but at this time of the year parents and pupils are working hard for a different type of charity. There seems to be a limit to parental generosity, especially when it comes to time and effort.

Both of our schools, primary and secondary, have their school fairs this weekend. The money raised by these events will go directly back to our children in the form of resources that will benefit them, and the children who come after them. This money doesn’t pay for added extras anymore; it’s required for absolute necessities such as new buildings, classroom supplies, new books and fire extinguishers.

Our primary school has just under 700 pupils in it. Even allowing for single parents and multiple siblings, that means there must be over 1000 parents associated with the school. Our school fair committee has been trying to man 10 games stalls for 3 hours each. They were looking for 30 people to do 1 hour at a stall during the fair and as usual, found it difficult to fill these slots. Isn’t it amazing that out of 1000 parents, committee members had to go begging to find 30 who were willing to help? That 30 hours is just for help from people with the games on the day; the parents on the fair committee have already spent hours of their own time collecting items, sorting donations, soliciting raffle prizes, organising stalls and ticketing tombola prizes.

These are not parents who are too lazy to organise something to raise money for Children In Need. These are parents who already have too much on their plate. And it’s always the same parents year after year.

When one of these committee members joined in with the ‘Why Hasn’t Our School Done Anything For Children In Need?’ thread, and asked if anyone complaining would like to organise something for CIN next year, the thread died a quick death.Funny that.

It seems a lot of parents would prefer to send their child into school in something cute and donate to a nationwide charity, than make more of an effort to help their school raise money for their own children. Of course it doesn’t have to be either/or, people could do both, but supporting a Big Cause by throwing some coins in a bucket will always be the easier option.

Is it always the best, though?




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