Don’t be shy, raise a hand and volunteer

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Did you ever have one of those moments when you realize you are just itching’ to smack someone?

This is out of character for me because I’m not known for my physical prowess. I’m more the chew-you-up-verbally-and-make-you-beg-for-mercy (and-possibly-a-thesaurus) kind of gal.

Yet, since I’ve gotten involved in a variety of community organizations catering to children — I’ve been just itching to throttle someone. Daily.

Oh it’s not the kids. As they say in that classic rock song, the kids are all right. It’s parents that are making me crazy.

Good sports

I know what you’re thinking, that the parents are going all “hockey dad” and throwing punches on sidelines of sporting events?

Fortunately, it’s nothing like that. In fact, I would say I’m generally impressed by the overall good sportsmanship exhibited at the various youth events I have had the pleasure to attend.

So, if it’s not antics on the sidelines that are driving me bonkers, what could possibly be the problem? Well, to be frank, it’s the parents behind the scenes (or not) that are going to be the death of me.

Volunteer

Most parents would have to concede the registration fees for most youth activities barely makes a dent in the variety of needs — from lawn care to liability — that are necessary before a group even gets off the ground (or on the grounds as the case may be).

In virtually every league, group or association I spoke to, you have literally a hundred or more parents signing up their children — and about a dozen or so people doing virtually ALL of the work.

I have come to accept that in order for youth sports organizations to run without having to charge each family $40,000 per child to participate, we are going to have to raise some (cookie) dough.

I hate fundraising as much as the next frugal slacker. I don’t want to sell $40 gift wrap, scented candles, or fruit to an utter stranger I’m not overly fond of — let alone people I actually love.

Trust me, if anyone else tried to sell my grandmother overpriced junk, I’d call the Better Business Bureau (and quite possibly the police).

I’m not about to suspend my standards simply because my own offspring are the one’s engaging in high-pressure sales.

Sweet

We just have to come up with the funds the old-fashioned way. We sell overpriced candy and soda from the concession stand.

Some people sell crack, I push Swedish Fish.

Unfortunately, I am also finding that staffing the concession stand with parent volunteers is akin to my asking them to give me a kidney.

Worse, at a recent game we nearly had to forfeit when we were completely unable to find a parent from either team willing to stand on the sidelines and hold a flag. That was it — hold a flag. Not a single parent was willing to do it. When I ended up doing so — I was actually heckled by one mother for blocking her view of the field (look I knew I’d probably had one too many ice cream cones over the summer, but I had no idea that my rear view could block an entire SOCCER field).

People are just so darned charming sometimes.

Time

I get that not everyone feels they have the time or the innate skill that may be required to properly sling concessions or wave a flag on behalf of their child’s team, but let me tell you — they do!

In fact, I’d venture to say that telling people, who have worked hours upon hours to organize, pave the way, plan the program, mow the lawn, prep the fields, and a host of other things while juggling jobs, families, and a need to sleep every few days or so, that you are “too busy” to help is just plain mean.

Not to mention possibly suicidal. So please DO volunteer to help your league, group, association or whatever it is you and your family enjoy.

Too many groups rely on a core group of committed but overworked volunteers to run things because others aren’t willing to donate an hour or two of their time. They aren’t asking you to sell your soul to the devil, just commit an hour or two in a season and you could make all the difference in the life of a child — and an overworked volunteer.

Most recreational programs are dirt cheap. Where else can you get two-three hours a week of healthy activity for your child for $25-$100 a season?

Not to mention the opportunity to sling candy and soda with a fun loving’ volunteer like me? I promise, I don’t bite — and if we quit hearing about how “busy” everyone is and start getting some help here — I probably won’t hit anyone either.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves Swedish Fish — in moderation. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; http://kymberly.typepad.com/life; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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