Jack Farley essay
- Chronicle a successful raffle fundraising campaign you or a family member has been a part of. What results were achieved? How did it help the organization and/or the community it was meant to benefit? How did the experience enrich you?
I learned about the value of raffles from my mom. In our family kitchen, she has a special shiny, porcelain teapot displayed on a shelf. It is painted in various soft hues of blue and gold, and it is a cool, antique design. The teapot has a story.
My mom was one of seven children, growing up in the Boston area in the sixties. In the Irish part of town where they lived, family life was centered around their church. All of her siblings went to the parish school. One of the biggest fund-raising events at the school was the annual “Treasure Raffle”. It was a community-wide event, held in the parish hall after school on a Friday. Everyone came.
The raffle was held at the beginning of spring. For weeks before the raffle, the pastor of the parish announced at Sunday service that the school was collecting donations of treasures of all kinds. The community responded generously, dropping off boxes and bags filled with everything from tiny toys to heavy silver platters. Parent volunteers sifted through all of it.
On the day of the raffle, volunteers returned to place each item one by one, onto rows and rows of tables. In front of each item, they placed a shoe box, taped shut tightly all around except for one small slit cut in the cover. Raffle-goers would slip their tickets into the boxes in front of the items they hoped to win. At the close of the raffle, each box would be opened, and a ticket would be drawn randomly, blindly. That person would be the winner of the item!
My mom says that the wait felt like forever. Finally, the day of the Treasure Raffle arrived. That morning, her mom gave each of her siblings $1.00 to spend. This was 60 cents more than their usual weekly allowance! And it would translate into 20 raffle tickets! When the school bell rang out at 3:00 p.m., she joined the throng of students rushing to the parish hall. A huge crowd was already forming inside. After buying her 20 tickets at the door, she worked her way through the maze of tables, surveying all of the treasures before placing even one ticket into a shoebox slit.
And then she spotted it. On a table, in the center of the room, there was the teapot. She says it was, “the most beautiful thing” she had seen in her whole eight years of life. She wanted it. She wanted to give it to her mother for Mother’s Day, just a couple of months away. She simply had to win it.
Quickly, she ripped off one of the tickets, and slipped it into the slit. She walked away quickly, too nervous to know what to do next. For a few minutes, she walked around the room, trying to convince herself that what she was feeling inside was not a good idea. Should she do it? Should she follow her pounding little heart and put all of the tickets in for the teapot? The teapot that she could imagine her mom opening on Mother’s Day? The perfect gift for her Mom, whom she adored?
For the next hour and a half, she walked past dolls and bobbles and knick- knacks of all kinds. But nothing measured up to that precious teapot. Every time she walked past it, she put in another ticket, until finally, she had placed all twenty of her tickets into its shoebox. She breathed a heavy sigh, and then left the hall, to meet her dad who was waiting outside in the family station wagon.
She kept her secret all week-end long. She did not want anyone else in the family to know that she had spent her entire dollar on tickets for one thing. She hoped and of course, prayed on her little knees, that somehow it would work, somehow maybe she would win it. She rolled her matching tickets into a neat ball, and tucked them into her school bag.
Back in school on Monday morning, her teacher announced that the principal would be coming onto the PA system to announce the numbers of the winning tickets. My mom pulled the row of 20 matching tickets out of her coat pocket and waited breathlessly. The principal started out by saying, “We want to thank everyone who participated in this year’s Treasure Raffle. It was a huge success. We have made enough money to do all of the necessary improvements in our cafeteria.” Then, she proceeded to announce every single item and its winning number. Finally, the principal said, “And there was one item which received the most tickets of all. It is a beautiful, antique teapot, and it goes to number….” My mom leaped in the air when she heard the number!! She won.
My mom remembers running to the office to get the teapot. She remembers giving it to her mom on Mother’s Day. She remembers how much her mother loved it, and she remembers telling her mom the story of how she used up all of her tickets. Her mom told the story to countless people and she treasured the teapot. Now that my grandmother has passed away, we have the teapot in our kitchen.
That raffle made a lot of money every year. My mom says that her childhood friends tell her that they still do the raffle. It is a pure money-maker because all of the goods are donated, and all of the work is done by volunteers. A raffle like this one is exciting, and it builds community. And every now and then it might also just bring childlike wonder and joy like it did for my mom.
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