Parker Beastrom essay

The date had been set for the football casino bus fundraiser and to help raise additional money, a raffle would take place during the bus ride to the destination.  Participants could purchase raffle tickets to take part in the drawings to win the donated prizes.  That was the easy part.  Now we needed to get the prizes.  My school is located in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood so money was always an issue.  Several parents expressed concern that they did not have the time, money for additional gas or the positive attitude that businesses would actually donate anything.  They thought we were wasting our time.  However, I wanted to make a positive impact on my team and knew that with the support and dedication of my parents, I could help make this dream a reality.

We began our mission with a list of places we would solicit donations from and a copy of the non-profit 501c3 letter verifying the requests were legit.  My parents and I were determined to make this fundraiser for my high school football team a success so the team could purchase new football jerseys for the upcoming season.  We were asking local businesses for simple donations that people could actually use – a $10 gift card, a free oil change, a free sandwich or frosty, movie tickets, a game of bowling – the list was endless.  We made copies of the donation letter and always kept copies in the cars just in case we came across an unexpected opportunity to receive a donation that was not already on our list.  Over the course of several months, we went from business to business asking for donations.  We made some phone calls, but found making the request in person reaped a greater reward.  It was more difficult for people to say no when I was standing in person, face to face with them.  If the manager was not available, we would make a note of who we needed to talk to, when they would be available and then follow up with our request.  My persistence paid off because I was only turned down a few times.  However, I didn’t let that discourage me.  The donations were beginning to pile up and our living room looked like a retail store.  Each time I saw my football coach or teammates at school, I would update them on all the new items we had received.  The energy and success behind this event was exciting.

The big night finally arrived and my parents and I unloaded the numerous donations onto the charter bus.  All the prizes were strategically placed in the seats at the front of the bus so participants could see what was going to be raffled off as they boarded the bus.  As the bus filled up, so did the anticipation of who was going to win what.  Raffle tickets were sold fast and furious and the tickets were then placed into a large coffee can decorated in our school colors – orange and black.  One by one, the raffle tickets were drawn and the winners eagerly claimed their prizes with a shout or shriek or simple raising of their hand.  Along with the smaller coupon type prizes, there were a few larger prizes such as a free hotel stay, a basket of Avon products, some T-shirts with the school logo, and a basket of chocolates.  We had received enough donations for almost every person to have won something.  People were shocked when they saw how generous the local businesses were – especially the ones who doubted we could make this happen.  When asked how we did it – our humble reply was “all you have to do is ask”.

The raffle was a success considering only 40 people participated.  We were able to raise $1,300 towards the purchase of new jerseys and we were that much closer to reaching that goal.  Although that amount of money may not seem like a lot to some, I frequently reminded people that we were able to raise that much by the generosity of simple, little donations from our community members.  Imagine what we could do if we had more participants and more prizes for next time?

I was extremely proud of what my parents and I were able to accomplish.  We sent out handwritten thank you notes to every business that participated in this fundraiser.  I developed some positive relationships with the community by doing this and I am amazed by the generosity of people I didn’t even know.  I have also learned that if you put your mind to something, anything is possible.  My parents offered their support, guidance, time and energy to help make this happen.

During that summer, we participated in other fundraisers to help finish raising the money necessary to purchase the new jerseys.  When the fall season finally arrived, and my teammates and I put on those new jerseys, my smile could have lite up the entire night sky.  I was so proud.  I was proud that I had been a part of making this happen.  We wore those jerseys with pride every game – this is what a team looks like.  Since this fundraiser, my parents and I have helped organize several others for school and my church.  Many of the managers remember us from the previous fundraiser and do not hesitate to make a donation.  I think a key factor in receiving subsequent donations is the fact that I took the time to write a personal thank you to them.  This gesture, considered old fashion to many, went a long way.  Although I will graduate from high school soon, I am confident I left a positive impact on my coaches, teammates and other parents by believing in myself, taking a risk, and engaging in the spirit of team.

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