Susan Buchert essay

Essay Topic #3: 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?

Raffling as a Community Building Experience

Once upon a time, I worked at a parochial school. It was located in an isolated region of rural California, an area plagued with unemployment, illiteracy and an overall lack of education. The Sisters of Saint Francis, an order based in Iowa, took it upon themselves to bring their mission of academic and spiritual enlightenment to this small, struggling community.

As could be expected, the school was primarily a charity effort. Most parents could not afford tuition, and the sisters essentially worked for free. Budgets for classroom supplies did not exist, and employees and volunteers soon became adept at soliciting donations for classroom materials and projects.

The class in which I worked followed a literature based model. All subjects were tied to children’s literature that supported and expanded the content being learned. There was one big problem, however – a lack of contemporary children’s books.

Enter the Raffle.

While engaged in a cross-curriculum unit on geometry, which included a literature extension on quilts, the teacher had a brilliant idea. Why not have the students demonstrate their geometry skills by designing a paper quilt square? The pattern could later be transferred to fabric, cut out, and stitched together with the help of classroom volunteers. Upon completion, a raffle would be held and the proceeds used to purchase books for the classroom library.

Remember, this was a very poor community. The brilliance of this raffle idea was three fold:

First, being a rural community, many people sewed their own clothing, and therefore had many fabric scraps laying around the house that they were glad to donate to the cause. There was no cost to the classroom or community to obtain these materials.

Second, and more importantly, buying a $1 raffle ticket was within the means of the poorest of families. Every parent was willing to take a chance at winning a quilt their child had helped to design. And such a bargain! A hand made heirloom treasure, for a $1 investment!

Lastly, local small businesses with ties to the Catholic Church were willing to advertise the raffle as well as make their own ticket purchases to support this good cause. As a “donation,” the purchase of raffle tickets was a welcomed tax write-off for the business owners.

Needless to say, our quilt raffle project was a great success. We made $100 in raffle sales, and with that money, we were able to make a bulk purchase through Scholastic Books – 100 books for $100.

Our quilt raffle was a wonderful experience in community building. Those without “means” were able to donate materials and take pride in their participation. Students learned the practical application of geometric concepts as well as beginning fabric arts skills. Parents took pride in the original designs their children created. Community members – both wealthy and poor – were able to purchase a chance at owning this unique creation. And ultimately, the school’s students – both current and future – benefited from having 100 new, contemporary books added to the classroom library.

And all thanks to the ability to hold a raffle!

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