The "Fun" in Fundraising

By Juliet Cody, President, Beach Cities Chapter

The Beach Cities chapter of the NFBC voted to have two fundraisers, one in February and one in April. Everyone agreed to sell barbecued hot dogs, chips and drinks outside of Wal-Mart. In addition, it was decided to pass out big helium balloons and Braille alphabet cards along with lots of literature. The membership was very excited and cooperative. Our president delegated to everyone his or her duties. All motions for expenses, location and flavors of drinks were passed with good discussions, great creativity and lots of positive anticipation. By the time the meeting ended, all of us had big smiles on our faces and were eager to put the fun into fundraising.

In preparation, everyone pitched in: letters were sent, supplies were purchased, dates and times were set, etc. All the effort and work that is put into a large fundraiser was done well and in harmony with a lot of fun. You see, this is the only way the Beach Cities surfers know how to work.

The first hot dog sale was a lot of fun and successful. We wore our beautiful NFBC "Celebrate Life" T-shirts with enthusiasm. This framed our positive attitudes as we sold out our barbecue and gave away the balloons and literature. Many positive comments about blindness were heard. We thanked them for their support and for their interest in learning about blindness. We proceeded to demonstrate to everyone that blind people could barbecue without burning down the house. We exhibited our cane skills. We also showed off our intelligent guide dogs. We educated everyone who asked about how we count money and make change, and how we read and write Braille. We showed off our Braille notes and our GPS receivers. And when the day was done, we all packed our belongings and proudly left.

The second hot dog sale was just not quite the same. Who says it never rains in Southern California? First thing at our location, we were informed that we did not have a table to use. After 20 minutes of negotiations, we managed to obtain one small plastic card table from the promotion department. It took creative organization to figure out a way to set it up and to get started. As soon as the barbecue was burning, it started to sprinkle. Everyone stayed positive and said that it would clear up soon. Well, it did not stop, and the small plastic card table became slippery when it was wet, and chaos broke loose. The first thing that slipped off was the bowl with the chopped onions. No sooner were the onions cleaned up when the large cooler filled with lemonade flew off the table and there was lemonade and ice all over the place. While we were trying to clean up this mess we realized that all of the literature was getting soaked because it was now raining pretty hard. Immediately, some of us started re-packing the literature. One of our members decided that the solution would be to go into the store and buy a large umbrella to place on the table. However, when she put it on the table she realized that the umbrella needed a stand. So, she ran back in the store and bought an umbrella holder. Well, guess what? The umbrella holder was the wrong size and they did not have the right size. She then went back in the store and bought a large bucket and a large bag of potting soil. Two other members caught on to what she was doing and they helped her put the soil in the bucket, and they stuck the umbrella into it just in time for the blustering wind to blow the umbrella and the bucket over and make a huge mud puddle.

While all of this chaos was going on, our guide dogs had crawled under the bench and were quietly staring at us. People walking by would say, "It looks like the dogs are smiling; as if they are enjoying all of this." At this point, a plastic bottle of red punch dropped on the ground and made a large puddle close to my guide dog. Seconds later, a woman walking out of the store hysterically screamed, "Your dog is bleeding all over!" I had an instant heart attack! I reached out for my dog and tripped on the punch bottle and knelt into the punch, heard my dog licking, and realized what had happened. By now, we were all packed and we fled quickly instead of walking proudly!

Later that evening I set up a conference meeting, and I wish we had tape recorded it, because the laughing and joking were so hilarious that it went on until we just could not stand laughing anymore.

Hence, the Beach Cities chapter has learned that not all fundraisers are fun in the same way. But, they are always fun, memorable and most importantly, necessary for our movement.