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No More Soup Labels and Box Tops: Can I Give Cash Instead?

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I hate these Box Top and Soup Label Challenges! And I have three reasons why ....

mom giving daughter some cash

Guest blogger Tina: Last Sunday night, I stood in front of my kitchen pantry for a half hour, scouring the shelves for products containing the coveted Box Top for Education. Why? Because my kids' school is holding yet another Box Top Challenge, and each student's quota is two pages' worth -- or $2.

Dear Beloved Elementary School: Can I please just give you $2 instead?

Here are three reasons why Box Top and Soup Label Challenges drive me crazy:

1. They're oppressive to women.
My husband never scours the pantry, desperately searching for a product with that elusive little rectangle. He's never stayed up late to clip them and glue them onto a photographed sheet using half of a dried-up glue stick. During the last challenge, a friend of mine carried a huge Ziploc bag -- full of tops collected from coworkers, friends and family -- around with her for days. At every afternoon pickup and school event, there she'd sit, gluing more tops onto collection sheets. This is not how I want to spend my free time.

2. They make me a failure in my kids' eyes.
The reward for the most box tops collected is a class pizza party. Since my kids never eat pizza (that's sarcasm), this is very important to them. Every morning, they ask me how many box tops I've collected so far. The answer to that question is always "three," because that's how many I had saved in a short-lived fit of enthusiasm after the last challenge. It is not an answer they like to hear.

3. Two words: processed food. Box tops, by nature, are attached to a box. And boxed food typically contains processed food. With the exception of cereal, I try to avoid letting my kids eat that stuff. Why can't we have a challenge where we all collect those little stickers I'm always peeling off my fruits and vegetables?

Don't get me wrong: I'm grateful for all the money these two companies have donated to schools across the country. According to their respective websites, Box Tops for Education has donated $320 million to our nation's schools, and Campbell's Labels for Education has been supporting schools for nearly 40 years. Our schools need every bit of help they can get right now. But at the same time, I know I'm not the only mom who's found herself scrounging in the cereal cupboard the night before a challenge ends. Sometimes it would just be easier to tape two dollar bills to the page instead.

That night in front of the pantry, I didn't find any more box tops. But I was thrilled to discover several cans of Campbell's soup. Which is why neither of my kids won their pizza party, but I now have 12 cans of soup in my cupboard, their contents identifiable only by the words written in Sharpie on the bare can. That's got to count for something, right?

next: Is It Time for My Husband to Snip Snip?
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Steph April 19, 2010, 4:41 AM

Thank you! This constant and relentless fund-raising is driving me nuts. We’re hit by our elementary school, our daycare center, our sports teams… And I refuse to hawk wrapping paper/frozen pizzas/cookie dough to our family, friends, and co-workers. So my husband suggested we just write a small check for each and *we* get the tax deduction.

Stephen April 19, 2010, 7:26 AM

We are moving to a newly-built elementary school in the fall, and the newborn-PTA floated the idea of fundraising vs. just giving a lump sum to get started on the playground, etc. Nearly everyone (98%) who responded to the survey said they’d rather give a lump sum. I’d personally rather write a check for $300 (no amount was discussed in the survey) than spend 15-20 hours of my weekend and evening life making posters and manning a hoop-tossing booth at a “fun fair”.

Elizabeth April 19, 2010, 7:48 AM

It is annoying and a hassle, but well worth it to the school and ultimately the kids. Our school has many ways to raise money and they have smart boards, playground equipment, even computers and books to show for it. So grateful! These things enhance the educational experience for all kids. Still, I wouldn’t stress over it at all. As far as mommy guilt and your kids wanting pizza, you could have some every once and a while. Maybe another way of helping out at school would work better for you. Usually classroom holidays warrant help. Let the teacher know ahead of time you’d like to help in some way. Or if you’re too busy, you could donate needed items for the classroom. If you cant’t it’s okay. Other parents can. Don’t accept the guilt trip!

HeeHee April 19, 2010, 4:15 PM

fund raising sucks!

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 6:28 PM

Interesting post! Good to read. I have got one observation to submit about tee shirts.

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