Jeffrey Davis essay
The amount of free time I have, while admittedly small, is often taken up with volunteer pursuits. One such activity is my work with our local children’s theatre company, the Coastal Youth Theatre. One of my jobs is that of salesperson making people aware of, not only the raffles, but the real, tangible, good that the profits provide. Theatre essentials come, in part at least, from the funds generated by the raffles, and people buy them all the more when they know that their purchases make a difference.
During the last children’s theatre show, over the course of the weekend’s three shows, we sold over one thousand dollars worth of raffle tickets. That money goes toward making sure that the kids in the show have quality teachers, great costumes, excellent lighting and sound, and local promotion to bring in folks who desire a family-friendly afternoon of entertainment that doesn’t involve a glowing screen or a blinking box. We work hard to make sure that the kids get the education in the theatre arts that they deserve, and hosting raffles on show days are a big part of that.
It is a labor of love that many kids wouldn’t even think about beyond their own involvement, and that’s how it should be. Children are inherently each at the center of their own universes, and the efforts of parents and like-minded individuals shouldn’t distract from their experiences. Luckily, there seems to be little danger of that. They may never realize that the raffle tickets purchased by their parents, grandparents, and other adults are helping to make those experiences better, but the people who buy them certainly do. It’s hard to imagine what we would have to cut out of the program if we couldn’t offer raffles to the audience.
School sports offer an outlet to many kids and often, kids in sports are involved in theatre as well. But, unlike organized sports, the theatre environment is open to all; coordinated or not, talented or not. As one children’s theatre director put it, ” There is a place for every child here.” Sure, sometimes they are in the ensemble, singing the chorus parts, and sometimes the same talented kids seem to get the best parts. But, when a kid enters the program as a shy, withdrawn child who shows no desire to interact or communicate with others, there is the possibility that they will blossom. It may take longer than if they were on a team that needs to win to maintain their rankings, but it can happen. And, when it does, it is literally amazing.
Sometimes, all it takes is the right teacher to coax them out of their shell. Sometimes it might take the camaraderie that comes from being part of an non-judgmental and supportive family to draw them out. But, a positive environment isn’t free. It costs money to maintain and supply the goods and services needed, and those little, inconspicuous raffle tickets become a pretty important part of that.
Being involved in this kind of endeavor has been rewarding and unforgettable on many levels for my entire family. Through it all, we have always been a family that helps, painting backdrops, doing make up, securing local donations… whatever is needed. Those little tickets help to make such efforts possible.
Their allure is much more powerful than simply asking for support from the audience. Raffles give audience members a chance to get involved and make a difference. They know it, and usually jump at the chance when they can win, too. A win-win is a powerful draw, and raffle tickets are the only thing that can make that possible.
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