Are Basket Drawings Teaching Materialism or Teaching a Lesson?
posted by: Susan Wells
In the spring, our school holds a basket drawing as their major fundraiser for the year. The basket drawing brings in thousands of dollars for the PTA.
Each class chooses two themes for their baskets – this year my daughter’s class did Star Wars and Monster High. The parents are then asked to donate items on the theme or money to the baskets. No one is forced to donate or participate.
The drawing is usually held on a Thursday, along with a pasta dinner and book fair. During the week of the big drawing, baskets are showcased in the main display cases and tickets are sold. Every student and staff member are given one free ticket to enter.
On the big night, winners’ names are drawn while everyone gathers in the gym.
There is a lot of excitement during the week and especially that night. The community comes together to support the school.
The big problem? There is a lot of excitement and hype over the baskets. There are at least 20 to 30 to choose from and the prizes aren’t wimpy. There are gift card baskets, cash baskets, electronics baskets, toy baskets, spa baskets and even TVs. Our Monster High basket contained at least six dolls, books, a car, clothing and more. Almost every girl in the school was drooling over that basket.
With all those cameras, game systems, dolls, stuffed animals, Legos, sports equipment, gift cards, cash and more, it is easy for the kids to get worked up in hopes of winning one.
Gluttony is wrapped up in a shiny basket with a bow on top.
They have a week to get whipped into a frenzy every time they walk down the halls.
But the odds are against them. With over 400 students in the school, plus staff plus family members, that adds up to a lot of tickets entered.
I have mixed feelings about the basket drawing. On one hand, it’s fun to try to win a basket of goodies while helping the school. On the other, the emotions my children suffer all week long is close to unbearable.
We discuss that the drawing is all luck. No one can win it by strategy. No one is guaranteed to win and the odds are against winning. I try to add some math into the situation by explaining your chances of having one ticket pulled out of 100 tickets in the bucket. I am sure this conversation replays over and over in many homes during that week.
When the night of the drawing arrives, children are excited and ready to win.
Some win, even a few win multiple baskets, but the majority loses. The electricity in the air dampens. The lucky few are ripping open their baskets while some have red eyes, others are crying and the rest are just ready to go home.
My daughter is one of the ones with red eyes. She gets so excited and then so disappointed. We have never won a thing.
As we walk out of the gym, parents are explaining to their deflated children that the drawing benefits the school and that is the important thing. But how does that really make a difference in the life of an 8-year-old who spent a week fantasizing over winning a Wii?
This is a tough night for so many. It’s hard to walk out empty handed while a few can’t carry their winning stash.
I struggle, because I feel this promotes materialism and acquiring things. But it’s the school’s big fund raiser. Education is something we should all support. A tradition. A “fun” week.
Some parents admit to taking their children to the mall after the drawing to buy something to make it better. One mom told me a few years back that she took her kids to the pet store to buy a hamster after they lost the hamster basket.
Is this truly a great learning experience for the kids while also making a little cash for the school on the side? Or does this just reinforce materialism and yearning for the big prize in the kids’ impressionable minds? What does your school do to raise money?