Selling Chocolates Door-to-Door is a Really Bad Idea

by Samantha on October 1, 2012



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Who hasn’t bought some waxy, chocolate covered almonds from a kid that was selling them door-to- door? Or perhaps you may have parted with your hard-earned cash due to the incredible guilt felt after seeing a cute but wary child holding up a sorry-looking box of “candy” in front of your local supermarket. A decades-old standard of childhood, the “selling chocolates” (or similar items) mandate is, quite frankly, getting old.

And potentially dangerous.

We tell our children repeatedly not to talk to strangers, yet we may still consider sending them along on their merry way to strangers’ homes, asking for money. Such an ironic switch on the age-old fear that parents everywhere warn their children about – taking candy from a stranger. Now, we are telling our kids to give candy to a stranger, and also give them our blessings in the process.

As schools are increasingly looking for ways to raise funds due to funding cutbacks and otherwise, the topic of fundraising-by-child is not going away anytime soon. This model for getting money into the schools’ coffers may be effective, but at what cost?

Way back when I was a child, being a chocolate huckster was the norm. All of my friends did it. We all sold chocolates door-to-door and there was very little thought given to the potential dangers or consequences of such actions. Indeed as the years have passed and parents have become more aware of the potential dangers that lurk just beyond our threshold, many of us have pulled back on this practice. That being said, there are still a fair amount of kids that continue to appear at our collective doors, asking for money. In this day and age , the practice is not only dated but problematic as well.

Some issues with this fundraising model:

  • Aside from the obvious potential for danger, sending the kids out to sell chocolates and candy on behalf of the school automatically sets up competition between friends;
  • Our children will experience undue pressure and stress about meeting an “acceptable” quota of sales for the school and potential feelings of guilt and failure if said quotas are not achieved;
  • The parents are unwittingly dragged into an activity of which they neither asked for or wanted, causing resentment, aggravation and general irritation all around. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel obliged to sell their child’s chocolates at their own place of employment in order to help the child to reach their goal (making both parents and non-parents alike uncomfortable and often angry). Either that or they have to make the choice between sending their child door-to-door, leaving mom or dad feeling uneasy and stressed, or go out with the kids to canvass and feel irritated and somewhat embarrassed that they’ve become a shill for the local school board. Neither option seems acceptable.

Recently in my area, there has also been a newer form of the old “candy-sell” practice in the name of magazine subscriptions. In this fundraising model 2.0, kids are provided with the millennium edition of the candy-sell game by now selling subscriptions to popular magazines. In this current permutation, the desired end-result is the same: as much money as possible is to be raised for the child’s class and/or school. The problem with this method of fundraising is that not only does it have all of the negative elements of the traditional chocolate-selling method, but it also puts kids at a further disadvantage in terms of their ability to achieve.  After all, let’s face it: these days, how many people actually read a physical magazine anymore? In the digital world in which we live, e-readers, online subscriptions and easily-accessed .PDF files are the norm. This reality sets up yet a further barrier to children’s ability to achieve the monetary goal behind the fundraising campaign. And let’s not even get into the part of this particular drive that gives “prizes” to the kids that sell the most – often expensive tech gadgets such as iPads supplied by the magazine publisher – that compel kids to want to sell, sell, sell. One has to wonder about the obvious question that this situation poses: if the magazine suppliers and publishers have so much money, why don’t they just donate to the school? It’s sad to think that the answer is that selling subscriptions is more important, and even sadder to think that children are being used to do so.

With both of these fundraising methods, the question remains – should we be employing our kids to raise money for their schools? Because that’s what we’re doing in a manner of speaking – getting our kids to “sing for their supper” through work detail.

Danger, stress and general irritation notwithstanding, perhaps its time that we rid our schools completely of these troublesome fundraising tactics. The chocolates that are supplied are generally substandard and the magazine-selling model just doesn’t fly in an age of e-readers and similar. More importantly, in our haste to send out kids out the door in search of money for their class, we are losing sight of the fact that they’re kids – and last time I checked, kids don’t work. They play.

Just my two cents.

How do you feel about kids selling chocolates or other items door-to-door? Should schools continue to use students to sell goods in order to raise money?

You an also read this article on Huffington Post.

Image courtesy of the Globeandmail.com

Radio Interview on Newstalk 1010 Defending My Position



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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

ElectraDaddy October 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I’m not a fan of kid’s selling stuff (except Girl Scout cookies cuz I need those every year or i will go crazy & it would get ugly) but I do miss those World’s Finest Chocolate candy bars! I loved those things in high school but haven’t seen a kid selling those in years.

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Samantha October 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm

World’s Finest Chocolates? I’m not sure we got that brand :) All I can remember is that the chocolate-covered almonds were a waxy mess! Girl Guide cookies aside (I love them too), putting our kids out on the street to sell is a bit too Dickensian for my liking and against what I believe we should be doing as a somewhat civilized society. It may sound extreme but this is something that I feel is reflective of how we view and value our children – or not.
Thanks for commenting.

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CJAllDressedUp October 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I commented on the Huff Post article but believe so strongly in what you are saying that I had to post here as well!! Thank you for writing this. Just last week, a child came to our door without shoes, unsupervised, and at an inappropriate hour to sell something. I am utterly confused as to why this practice still exists!

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Samantha October 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Cheryl, that is just awful! I can’t understand how some parents can think that this is okay. As well, I don’t understand why schools insist on continuing this practice that is clearly dangerous as well as wrong. Let’s hope that they come to their senses and stop it for the good of all of our children.

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Cindy January 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I dislike door-to-door fundraising and prefer that families get involved in fund raising rather than leaving it to the kids (e.g. used book sales). The reason for my dislike, however has nothing to do with the “danger”, I just don’t think that total strangers (or even friendly neighbors) should feel obligated to support your school/basketball team etc. However, I also think you are exaggerating the “dangers” of going door to door selling chocolate. The society of fear in which we now live is baseless should not be encouraged in your blog. Where is your proof that this is a “dangerous” activity? Do you have any statistics of any harm coming to any fund-raising children?

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Samantha January 15, 2014 at 2:10 am

We do live in a “society of fear” to a certain degree but one can’t discount the fact that sending a small child to a stranger’s door is risky at best. No – I don’t have specific statistics on door-to-door fundraising by kids but stand by my original thoughts that encouraging small children to knock on stranger’s doors is never a good idea. I’m not “encouraging” the society of fear by discussing this topic; rather drawing attention to the fact that this archaic method of fundraising needs to be stopped for reasons that are obvious.

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Sabrina March 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

My son is 3 year old and I refused to participate to the chocolate fundraising charity as his preschool for various reasons so I returned the chocolate to this office. Now the school is adding the fee for unsold chocolate to my bill. Is that legal? How can i fight it? Any advice on how to resolve this issue would be appreciated.

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Samantha March 24, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Hi Sabrina,
That policy is insane! I don’t know if it’s legal or not where you live but if it is, I would definitely fight it! Check with your school board, go over the heads of those who are giving you the charge and get to the root of why this is being done. It’s one thing for a parent to make a decision about their child, especially when it comes to safety but it’s another whole thing when the parents are being penalized for doing so. Good luck and let me know how it turns out!
Sam

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rdc363 May 18, 2014 at 12:55 am

By reading this, I can see parenting is the issue. Schools gave permission slips for parental ok to sell these.

Most parents knew this meant you’re gonna need to drive your kids around to keep an eye on them (and maybe give them a tip or two for selling). Not sign a consent form to turn them loose, running around town by themselves.

Quit blaming the schools and look at the parenting. LoL

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Samantha May 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Good point. Though sometimes parents don’t realize that the consent requires them to be involved in the process as well, which is part of the problem. I still think the practice overall should be eliminated…
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