Who can resist a cute kid with a great hustle?

The question isn't "Do I post a photo of La Tour Eiffel" but "Which photo of La Tour Eiffel do I post?"

Dearest readers, I need your help. This spring, I’m taking a group of students to France for a 12 day trip. We’re visiting the Loire Valley, doing a six day family stay in Brittany, and visiting the major sites in Paris. It’s a great trip we’ve planned — my 8th student trip! — and we have 20 kids enrolled.

There are a number of students who want very badly to participate in this trip whose families have been hit pretty hard by the recession. Some have had to decide to skip it this year and hope France is still there when they’re in college, but a handful are going to push through and raise the necessary amount of money they need to pay their fees.

Would you deny the children a chance to see this view? Think of the CHILDREN!



I’m not trying to make miracles with this travel program. AND. Our French department has worked tirelessly to promote this trip and the importance of second (and third!) language learning and travel. Given the interest we’ve gotten in a trip that has a $3K pricetag and the fact that I teach at an inner city school that is not filled with trust fund babies, I’d say the convincing is working. Travel isn’t just for the wealthy, though sometimes it seems that way. We have a few tiny little scholarships to offer our kids, and our student travel organization has two partial scholarships to offer their spring travel programs – of which there are at least 50. Slim pickings. I want each of these students to have the experience of living with a French family and using the language they’re learning in authentic ways. I want them to experience pain au chocolat on site. I want them to know what post-climb at the top of a spiral staircase vertigo really feels like. Because friends, I tell you – there is nothing more heart-giddy-making for me than watching real live discovery on the face of a young person. Kids who travel are kids who get curious, and curious kids make curious adults who endeavor to make the world a better place.

I want my students to get out there and start working to raise funds for this trip in creative new ways. Traditional fundraising campaigns like book sales and wrapping paper and cookie dough have a terrible profit return for the amount of work that they require. Plus, we’ve been restricted from selling anything with sugar in the top 5 ingredients – school candy sales are totally verboten. AND: I believe that there’s no experience more satisfying than one you’ve busted your tail to create for yourself. I want to teach them to take initiative for their desire to do something awesome and life-changing. I want them to learn that developing a solid work ethic helps them achieve goals they haven’t even imagined yet is a great feeling that can be had over and over again. Sure it’s not a fundraising campaign to save dying hemophiliac puppies or to prevent the death of well-dressed yet socially awkward llamas in war torn countries – but they’ve got the right to ask for help.

This is a push up your sleeves and tie on your apron campaign.

So I’m getting creative. I’m holding a meeting for all of the students who’re having a hard time coming up with funds for their trip. I intend to educate them in the fine art of guerrilla fundraising. We’ll be discussing how to educate people in their family/parent’s friends/church people circle about the trip, what the trip means to them and their educational future, how much money they need by when, and what kind of work or services they’d be willing to offer. (This is where my comedy friends need to get their minds out of the gutter, because I know some of you just had a bad thought. Shame on you! These are kids!)

My role is part motivational speaker and part idea generator and part rabble rousing community organizer — because with teens, that’s the only way to light a fire under their behinds that’s hot enough to get them moving. I want each student to work their networks (not approaching strangers or being risky, of course, and always discussing their activities with their parents) with a self-created flyer that defines their goals and the work they’re willing and able to do to take this trip to France. So here’s where I need your help. So far on the list of activities they could offer, I’ve got:

  • babysitting
  • raking leaves
  • shoveling snow
  • washing windows
  • housecleaning
  • errands
You haven't lived until you've had to shuttle 20 kids around town using the Paris Metro during rush hour.

But otherwise, I’m kinda stumped. It’s fall, they’re back in school, and they need approximately 2 grand in the next four months. In your experience, what kinds of chores, tasks, or other “I’d rather someone else do this and it’s worth a contribution for the greater good” kinds of work would you hire a kid to do?

The success of any given student’s endeavor is obviously dependent on their ability to hustle and pull the heartstrings of people just like you and me. They’ve gotta let people know what they are working for, give the doe eyes, show up, do what they agreed to do with a smiley face, and say THANK YOU for the opportunity to bust their tails at the end of the job. I don’t think this is impossible – and I’m sure that if they don’t try something, they won’t raise a dime. And it’s never too early to learn a good work ethic, right?

So please – in the comments, if you’ve got a creative idea I can add to the above list, share it by the end of this weekend and I’ll pass it along to my students. Thank you so very much.

7 thoughts on “Who can resist a cute kid with a great hustle?”

  1. I’ll think more about it, but you have no idea how fast I’d hire a kid to mop my kitchen or mow my lawn if I lived, like, within a thousand miles of them.

  2. At our church the senior high youth hold a “silent auction” every year to raise funds for a summer service learning trip. They offer all kinds of services (raking, cleaning, baking, babysitting), craft items, pies, pet-sitting, etc. The parents also offer things (ride to the airport, use of a canoe, four-course gourmet meal). I offered to sing and play guitar at a backyard party. It is very successful and a big community building event. I wonder if you could hold a “silent auction night” at school or have a “silent auction display” in a hallway near a public place where parents might see (like the hallway outside the auditorium when there is a school play or concert.) Folks could bid on items and then when the auction is done you collect all of the proceeds and the completion of the auction transaction is up to the students and the winning bidders (can take a while…sometimes folks let it slide…the money is paid up front so there is certainty). Just a thought. May work at church because that’s a trusting community…might not work in a more open marketplace. But it does create some efficiencies and consolidate the receipt of funds. When we do it we equally lower the overall costs to all students (very socialistic).

    1. Rand – that’s fantastic! I’m hoping to come up with ideas that keep the kids as autonomous as possible, so one student’s effort doesn’t impact another’s lack thereof. . . Thank you!

    1. Kickstarter would require a lot more work on my part than theirs, unless they each did one individually. My goal (which is lofty, for sure) is for each of them to land on a set of things they’ll do to promote their own causes individually.

  3. mom of Rashel…she worked all summer and earned $2000 to go on the trip. Her b day and chrstmas presents were cash for the trip which I kept until travel time so no spending temptations arose. There was also babysitting and a cleaning job which went to pay for hair appointments and outings with friends and clothes and general teenage wastefulness, thus saving me $ so I contributed the rest of the needed cash out of my pittance of social security taken after unemployment ran out. but I believe in the power of travel, having traveled a lot in the 3rd world and then only by the seat of my pants(I am cursed by a gypsy spirit but not everyone is). But here are some jobs, maybe not big paying, but no one wants to do them……dog poop removal should be in high demand esp. in winter. I used to pay kids 0.25 for every dandelion they pulled by the root, not just the tops. those of us who do not use weed killer just might hire them.
    Garage cleaning-ugly job in my garage junk hole. If the kid has access to a car, taking residential toxic waste to the county site-the household would have to supply the appropriate vouchers. Also, taxi service for kids/parents to go to school events but cheaper than a taxi( i use do this as I had no have no car). Or the grocery store for the parents. AS the Jamaicans say..”One one cocoa fill basket…” meaning little by little the basket will be filled.
    Also, I think the kids should start jobs in the summer so you need to get the propaganda out early and on a regular basis. I do not know how often you all torture yourselves by taking teenagers on a trip, but you could do a promo video with testimonials of kids who have gone or photos of past trips, blah blah blah,encouraging kids to start saving 2-4 years in advance. then they might learn that saving for something special just might be more rewarding than going to burger king . difficult concept to get across. that was my line for RAhsel-a lot- make your choice, Burger King or France. this involves a savings account and figuring how much they need to earn and save every year to get their big reward. You might have to be their adviser.

Kisses for comments!