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Why I volunteer at the guys’ school

Submitted by on Friday, 1 April 2011 No Comment

It came to 17 hours out of my life this week, and I’m a slacker. Some folks put in 40 or more. My paltry total still was the equivalent of half a work week at my last job, time that I wasn’t baking cookies or cleaning the house or finishing the paying work. That happened instead during the wee hours.

It cost me a pretty penny as well, because I’ve never met a book store that I didn’t love. They’re even harder to resist when you live in an isolated community 90 minutes away from the nearest Barnes & Noble. That fact explains why the twice-yearly Scholastic Book Fairs at the guys’ schools always are among the top revenue-producers in the country.

By Friday, though, it was time and money well spent.

I still have issues with some of Scholastic’s merchandising, and it broke my heart today to see a second-grader who was short on cash return an inexpensive chapter book in favor of a pricey Barbie book more suited for a kid two years younger but, hey, the Barbie book came with a trinket!

But in the end, the Book Fair means big money for the school – around 50 percent of the profit stays in the community, and most of the books come without trinkets. Most of the books, in fact, are priced less expensively than you’d pay elsewhere.

And this morning, I got to see the teachers at the guys’ school spend those profits. I am not exaggerating when I say they looked happier than the guys at Christmas. A room full of books, plus more available online, that they could buy with their share of the Book Fair profits. It came to roughly $180 per teacher.

Their eyes lit up, and some clapped their hands happily. I wish everyone who likes to label teachers as “just in it for a paycheck” could have seen their glee at being able to make substantial purchases for their classrooms. They couldn’t have been happier if they’d been handed gift certificates for personal use at the mall.

And that’s why I’m happy to volunteer at the guys’ school. Yes, there are times when you feel as if it’s eaten your life, particularly during the weeks of big events such as book fairs and carnivals. There certainly is no monetary payoff, and there is occasional abuse from the public.

The psychological payoff, though, is huge. It comes in seeing teachers grin as they gather books, and knowing that those books will help your children, their classmates and future students for years to come.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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