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In the Know: Remember those who help local causes when you shop

Kathryn LeBrasseur

Alexandria Senior Center

Board President

At my age there is a full realization that life changes. If you don’t believe me, tour the new high school. I taught school for 27 years and as I wandered through, I realized I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of how to plan lessons or what lessons to even plan. The changes are exciting though and a great preparation for life in today’s world.

Another area of change I notice is in fundraising. Seems like half my life has been involved with fundraising for my youth groups, my senior programs, benefits for those in need. The difference to my mind is in the area of “who actually raises the funds.”

My Boy Scouts sold popcorn and we Girl Scouts sold cookies to go to camp. My seniors made doilies, quilts, pies, soup and produce for prizes at special events and for silent auctions. Life changed and those needlepoint pictures and crocheted doilies aren’t in much demand anymore.

The prizes need to be more financially valuable. Thus it seems our local merchants are the ones who actually raise the funds today. They carry quite a burden as they are expected to provide gift cards or items for every raffle, door prize, silent auction. The fundraising non-profit group provides the setting for the event you buy the ticket to attend. The ticket is priced to cover costs and a slight profit. Then the group provides the solicitors to go out and request donations from our merchants. The raffle or auction of these items is where the money is made!

Our big corporations control this well. They require that all requests be submitted to a committee and advise up front that decisions on giving items is off in the distant future after the committees meet and review. Or they request that the non-profit pay half of the value of the item requested. It is very impersonal, so they don’t have to offend the solicitor and local customer by refusing.

Our local businesses don’t have this option; for the request and the donation are a very personal matter. It is generally a good customer or friend that makes the request.

Few stop to consider how many times a week our merchants get “hit” for items to raffle or auction off to support a good cause or help with medical bills for someone local. My guesstimate would be that the average business in Alexandria and/or Douglas County receives at least 10 requests a week for one benefit or another.

Our communities are closely knit and respond to need and our non-profits keep improving and updating to fit our needs and changes. I am so proud of that! But, in my opinion, and remember I always have one, we need to remember this when we shop!

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“In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.