Anyone who has ever had a kindergartener knows what it’s like to be asked so many questions that your head hurts! Sometimes our little guy wears me out with his constant queries, and sometimes he leaves me in awe of the way his little mind works. The most recent mind boggler was posed to Steve. “Who is better at Star Wars: Luke Skywalker or Isaiah Thomas?” (In what universe does this question even make sense? Would anyone out there like to tackle this question for me? Anyone? Anyone?
Sometimes I have to table his questions for when Daddy gets home. Sometimes I astound him with my own brilliance (okay, not really), and sometimes we have to add them to an ever-growing list of unanswerables, or things to ask God some day in Heaven. That list includes things like, “Why did God make mosquitoes,” and “Why does vanilla smell so good and taste so terrible?
To this list I would like to add, “When is the right time to do another fundraiser?” There is seriously never a good time! It certainly isn’t right after we watch the evening news and hear about crisis and tragedy. It’s not in the middle of a busy holiday season when everyone is advertising everything you can imagine at the “lowest prices of the season!” It isn’t in the middle of summer when everyone is on vacation or at the end of summer when parents are back-to-school shopping. It’s definitely not during the middle of any sports season when we’re all running around like lunatics; and it certainly isn’t when everyone else is asking for every civic organization/school activity known to man! It’s not when another family from our church is also fundraising for an international adoption! There just isn’t a perfect time.
So, that being said, we’ll just put our stake in the ground here and announce that we are still fundraising. Insert balloons and confetti and whatever it takes to make that statement exciting! In case you missed the memo, we’re adopting a little one from Haiti. It’s costly and time consuming, and we’re still in the thick of it.
Just for fun, let’s recap a few of the things we’ve done to raise money beginning 2012. I dare you to read this list without becoming exhausted!
We started out with a plan to do Christmas concerts, which fell through when I had to have thyroid surgery and lost the ability to sing for a while. We were able to sell my children’s Christmas book, Christmas cards, and some CDs during that timeframe, which was helpful, but not the kind of momentum we anticipated. Oh yes, we had custom Christmas ornaments too, but that was a year later.
We sold a whole bunch of cookie dough, which is when we hit upon the reality that food is always in season. That later led us to sell Anthony Thomas candy bars – starting with two flavors, almond and caramel. We had no idea what to expect with that one, but who doesn’t like gourmet chocolate for a buck?
We threw a giant rummage sale with the help of wonderful people from our church. (Note to self: don’t do that on the same day as the state-wide yard sale everyone is going to up and down the interstate.)
Many donations that were too nice for a rummage sale were sold through an auction house to bring in more cash.
A friend on the other side of the country donated quilts made by her quilting club to add to our wares.
Kids from our neighborhood brought us a dollar or two at a time after secretly selling lemonade or rubber band bracelets they were making to join in the cause.
We added crunch bars to our Anthony Thomas selection due to popular demand.
Some of our household belongings found new homes through Craig’s List and a much smaller yard sale much, much later.
Many of our friends and their friends now sport hand-made jewelry from Compelled Designs or GO Exchange. I became an expert in talking about fashionable things like purses, earrings, necklaces, jammy pants, and scarves. Most of those sales took place through home shows, and we’re so grateful to those who took the time to listen to the mission of GO Exchange and support our journey too.
Peanut butter candy bars joined the ranks of our assortment and Steve’s van could practically drive itself to the Anthony Thomas factory on its own!
We learned a little about the tee-shirt industry and sold a custom shirt encouraging us to “Finish the Race.” (That fundraiser was in 2015, and we expected to be done by this year. I’m now glad I didn’t put 2017 on the shirt like I had considered as this year is ending with no end to the journey in sight.) Some of you still wear that shirt and it blesses us each time we see you.
My mom sat through a craft fair with me, unfortunately timed during a snow storm, with several gift baskets we had been given. We also displayed those at our spaghetti dinner at the end of 2014, which was the first concert I somewhat successfully attempted post-thyroid surgery. That memory still makes me smile and we remain immensely grateful for everyone who had a hand in it or came to eat there!
We eventually became immune to the smell of chocolate as we started phasing out candy bars since everyone we had sold them to was now on Weight Watchers!
A longstanding practice in our house has been that if anyone treats us to anything we would have normally paid for - we put an equivalent amount into our adoption account in that person’s name. Tax returns, medical refunds, and unexpected cash gifts also go there. We deposit them before we can be tempted to spend them! We even opened that bank account during one of those “open a checking account here and get free money” events to snag a few more dollars.
Every single coin that comes into our house after we make a cash purchase goes into an adoption jar. A couple of times a year, the boys help me roll the coins and we deposit them into the bank. The coolest part of that has been that the kids have been able to watch pennies and quarters add up to dollars, and they often give their own money to help, although I’ve never asked them to do that.
That jar filled up a lot faster when we were selling candy bars. My coworkers knew about it and often paid me intentionally in quarters.
We raised money without an actual product – launching a $5.00 a month campaign through GoFundMe. Ironically, that was our best money maker, and it didn’t even require carrying an inventory or making deliveries!
We retired from the candy bar business, but not before my kids all became chocolate snobs!
This year, we launched a puzzle fundraiser. We purchased a 1,000 piece puzzle. We asked our friends and family to donate $5.00 to sponsor a piece of the puzzle. Every $5.00 donation is memorialized by writing the donor’s name on the back of a puzzle piece. Once assembled, the puzzle will be framed with glass on the front and the back to allow our daughter to see a cool picture on the front, and the names of people who helped to bring her home on the back. We’ve sold a lot of those, but we have a LOT more for anyone who’s interested!
I am 100% certain that I am leaving something out here. It’s been a long journey. If you’re tired from reading about all of this money-making stuff, just imagine how tired we are of asking!
Actually, in reducing all of this to print, I am encouraged and wonder why I worry about money at all. God faithfully got us through all of these things, and financed a trip to Haiti right down to the amount we would need to tip the hotel staff and eat dinner in the airport. He’s got this too. But we do have to keep working as fees keep going up as time stretches on.
We are currently, right now, until early November, going back to one of my old favorites. (They’re almost all my favorite, just for the record.) We are selling cookie dough, gourmet popcorn, and delicious lava cakes from Savory Foods. Just writing that makes my mouth water!! And think of all the work we’ll save people at Christmas cookie exchanges and bakes sales by bringing fancy flavors of pre-made cookie dough right to them! If this peeks your interest, message me and we’ll talk turkey – or cookie as the case may be.
You may have noticed a theme of people helping us out with our efforts throughout this post. That is especially true with what I anticipate being our biggest fundraiser this fall. Some immensely talented musicians are coming together to do a benefit concert on our behalf on November 12 – which just so happens to be Orphan Sunday. We’ll have amazing music (these people are seriously talented) and fabulous cupcakes, and a whole lot of fun! Please save the date as we would love to see you there! More details about that will follow.
While I still don’t know the right time to ask for money, I do know the right time to say thank you. That is now, and every other time anyone opens their hearts or their wallets to us. We really, really appreciate it! Thank you in advance for supporting our upcoming ventures. Without you, they’re just a lot of tedious work. Thank you again for supporting us over the last five (yes, I said five) years. Thank you for your kindness and for caring. We look forward to celebrating the result of all of this giving with you!
“Give thanks to the Lord! His love endures forever!”