Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Having Fun With Raising Some Funds

Time Management. Some of us are better at it then others. Books, seminars, DVDs, etc. have all focused on improving this exact topic because it is so integral to our productivity and ability to fit in the good/ fun stuff into our daily lives. Truthfully, there could never be enough hours in the day (as proof by my frequent 1:00 am bedtime), and although I like to think of myself as a multitasker (right now I am listening to music, while updating my blog, charging my iPod and defrosting chicken for tomorrow night’s dinner) my primary focus shifts from day to day, or week to week. I try to keep a main focus long enough to ensure that it has been completed before moving onto the next – however, I’m human and things slip or need to take immediate priority over other subsequent (soon-to-be) main focuses.

I mentioned before that I was not as avid with following up and asking for donations as I should have been this summer, or setting up much needed fund raisers. But, class took my primary focus four-six nights a week (depending on whether an exam was scheduled or not), and I didn’t feel like doing much that required planning past that. However, the shackles that were Chemistry lifted on the 20th of July, and I went into immediate fund raising mode.

My first fund raiser of the season took place at the Giant on Wisconsin Avenue Sunday, August 2nd. The fund raiser did not look promising from the moment I started to plan it, but I pushed forward (and I am very glad I did). The issue was not with the location, Giant was MORE then hospitable, letting me stand outside of their store for 3 hours and ask their patrons (nicely) if they would like to donate to LLS. Mr. Rodney Richardson, the store manager, (pictured with me below) just needed the basic letter from Team In Training head quarters showing him that I was legit and not going to pocket the money for the Lauren-Would-Like-A- New-Pair-Of-Shoes fund, and showed me where to set up. No, no, no – the issues came when I tried to get everything else ready for the big day. First it was trying to get a table to use. Another teammate had done the same thing I was about to, and walked away with a table after our July 11th training run on the Mall from one of the coaches (I thought). “The team’s coaches must have extra,” I rationalized, “obviously everyone would be asking them for tables – so they must have a few handy for participants.” So, not asking my teammate but going directly to the source, I e-mailed the coaches that Monday before, and asked if they wouldn’t mind me claiming a table on Saturday, August 1st to use for my fundraiser the next day.
“Oh no, of course that’s not a problem! You’re more then welcome to one.” Great. One item to cross off of my check list (or so I thought).

Now, to go back to my original point in this entry regarding time management, I not only try to be very cognizant of how I use my time (i.e. not spending an entire Saturday indoors baking), but I also have this thing called a budget. When you start with TNT, they do not hand you a wad of cash to help you buy gift certificates to raffle off, or baked goods in order to help you fundraise. All of the “extras” are on us. So, trying to be smart about it, I gave a few local businesses a call to see if they would be interested in donating some of their baked goods for my fundraiser, to help entice people to come over to my little table and throw a few bucks toward my $3,800.00 minimum. Every stinking place I called was unable to help, although
Hello Cupcake and Sticky Fingers said they would love to help another time when they were less busy. My biggest disappointment is with the Tenleytown Whole Foods. I was never able to get in direct contact with their marketing manager, although multiple messages were left for her, and the woman I kept speaking with sounded shocked I hadn’t heard back. Apparently, whoever the marketing manager is, is continually on a lunch break and out of her office – be it 10 am or 3 pm, the woman constantly feeds. I guess it’s a good thing she works in a grocery store then, huh? (Okay, okay, I’ll stop – but seriously, I was annoyed by how ineffectual she was as a manager.) I ended up buying packs of chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies (at Giant, no less), and making two batches of brownies (which were so good, I was glad to be getting them out of the house so that I didn’t eat them all myself. Not exactly what you would call “good training food.”) then dividing them all up into individual bags.

Saturday morning comes, and I finish the 12 miles at Fletchers with the team, and approach one of the coaches about acquiring my table. They look back at me like my head just spouted siblings. “Table? You need a…a table?” Her eyes quickly glance back and forth between the two tables covered with forms, food and sports drinks.
What I responded with was, “Yes, I wrote you this week asking to borrow a table and someone said they had one for me.” What I was thinking, was. Crap! Crap!! Crap!!! Yes, like I said in my e-mail to you, in which I received a response back stating that taking a table wouldn’t be an issue. Then again, when I sent a follow up e-mail yesterday, just checking to make sure the table was still available for my use…remember…kind of relying on this…please nod your head in understanding…

“Oh, that must have been Charlie.” *

Relieved sigh.

“What Charlie probably forgot to mention is that you will have to wait around another hour to take it with you. I’ll try his cell to ask him, since he is out on the trail somewhere right now.”

*Sigh sucked back in. I snuck a glanced over to see the look on my ride, and all of my car-mates’ faces. They tried to hide it (because the people who sign up with TNT are some of the most selfless, giving people I’ve ever encountered), but I could tell they weren’t pleased. Who would be towards a situation that eats away at their Saturday? I had run pretty slow that day, so I thought maybe the estimate was a bit high. With a hesitant, “Would you mind?” we all waited around for another 20 or so minutes until it became crystal clear that my hour of waiting for this table was no where near completion. One of my carmates piped up and let me know that I was more then welcome to use her “roll-up table” (this was my first encounter with a “roll-up table”. They are fricken cool.) as long as I could get it back to her after my fundraiser and before she left for vacation on Tuesday. No problem. Done and done.

The day of reckoning arrived, and I felt prepared. I got up a little early and did a few chores before heading out to grab the Zipcar to load all of my stuff in. I piled it all by the front door, except the food (since I didn’t want the chocolate to melt), so that I would not forget anything. I even threw in some last minute additions to add extra umph to my table. I get the car, I load the car, I drive to Giant, I talk with Rodney, he shows me where to set up, I unload the car, I start setting up…I forgot the food. I reload the car, I drive home (which wasn’t that far away, but when you factor in the coming and going, I lost about a half hour because of my forgetfulness), I grab the food, I drive back to Giant, I set up and start smiling brightly at the Sunday morning customers. Did I mention it was also raining the entire time?... because it was.

I picked Sunday because I figured there would be the most foot traffic. Everyone coming from church, or finishing up weekend chores, would then be headed out to their neighborhood grocery to stock up on that week’s necessities. However, just because there are a lot of people does not mean that any of them will stop, or look you in the face, or acknowledge that you have even spoken to them. I can’t blame them, or be mad. I have done the exact same thing to others, and I always feel bad about it while it happens - so I tried not to hold a grudge. Yet, I held out hope and knew that if others saw one person donating, they would be more willing to throw a few bucks my way - so when one way of approaching them wasn’t working, I switched my tactic. By the end of the 3 (rather, 2.5) hours, I walked away with 214.11 bucks (an average of $1.43 a minute) and met some really wonderful people. Some who knew of someone fighting these diseases, or had lost their battle, some who had gone through it themselves and others who wanted to give, just because. I got two questions more then others that day. They were:

Question 1: Why are you out here doing this?

Answer: I am training for the Nike Women’s Marathonwith Team In Training in honor of my grandmother, Rita Bovino, who died from ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) last year.
When answering this question, I was surprised that I started to get choked up while speaking about my personal story. I had put a picture of my grandmother out on the table, and when I started to speak about it and looked into her and my mother’s faces, I remembered the pain that time inflicted on my family. I remembered other people’s pain and triumph when they got up to speak at both of the honored teammate picnics. I became touched and sad all over again, as if it had all just happened.

Question 2: Which of these sweets are homemade?

Answer: Brownies.
An alarming amount of people shied away from the store bought cookies - although they were larger and not made by my hands. Now that’s not to say I can’t bake - I’m pretty good when it comes to cakes, homemade icing, and pudding - but brownies have never been a strong suit of mine. I hadn’t tried them out before heading off to Giant (not wanting to dwindle my supply) so I cringed a little when they walked away with a baggie of my little creations. I tested them later - they were, in fact, delicious. No harm done.
The other surprising part was that most people DIDN’T want the chocolate chip cookies, but instead headed straight for the oatmeal. I had originally gotten the oatmeal for parents who may not want their child to have too much chocolate, but when people actually got a little excited when I mentioned oatmeal, I had to hide my shock. I may not understand it, but to each their own, I guess.

Fun Fact of the Day: Since I was situated next to the cantaloupes and other assorted melons, I decided to find out how to actually buy one (a skill I never really acquired). Apparently, it’s all about the smell. If you can smell it through the skin, then it’s ready to buy. This answer was confirmed by four difference Giant patrons, so it must be true. You're welcome, if you didn't know that either :)

My second fundraiser was actually the very next day at Best Cellars in Clarendon. There were two unfortunate parts to this fundraiser, the first being that I only acquired it because one of my San Fran teammates had to bow out of the marathon, meaning I won’t get to see her every Saturday anymore (sad face). The second was that Team In Training planned a Happy Hour for it’s participates that same night, with the extra bonus of giving two runners a chance to win 5% of whatever the establishment, The Green Turtle, made that day for handing in their recommitment forms when they showed up. So, since their Happy Hour started at 5:00 pm and ours started at 6:00 pm, I hauled butt over to The Green Turtle to turn in my forms and then whip right around to fight the crowd and get back on the metro to head to Virginia. And, wouldn’t you know it – I WON THE RAFFLE!!! Not sure what the amount will be, but whatever it is, it is more then what I had if I didn’t hand in the forms. The fortunate part of the wine tasting was that I had little planning to do since I was co-hosting with my mentor Kristy who, graciously, took the reigns. All I had to do was add my list of people to the invite list and - wa la! - instant fundraiser!

This one was a blast. Best Cellars did an AMAZING job with our tasting. A huge thank you to them for all putting that together for us. They gave us the proper instructions for how to sip our wines, what they should be paired with, how they were prepared and a brief description of what we should expect from the flavor. Kristy set it up so that we would be tasting all California wines (get it…San Francisco…), five in total: 1) Bohemian Highway Chardonnay, 2) Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Rosé, 3) Firestone (yes, that’s right, the same folks who make tires, and the same family whose son was the previous stu
d on “the Bachelor”) Gewurztraminer, 4) Montpellier Syrah, and 5) Four Vines Zinfandel. The only one I absolutely do not recommend is the Rosé. Usually Rosé’s are sweet, this one was not, definitely, definitely not; it was just plum sour. I ended up purchasing the Gewurztraminer and the Syrah. Yum, those will be enjoyed at a later date.

Other then the tremendous staff at BC, I have to say that I have some down right awesome friends. I am so blessed to have you in my life, there supporting me - even if your support is laced with an alcoholic edge. The wine, conversation and good times flowed throughout the tasting, and I walked away with $174.00 towards my goal!!!

I still have more than $2000.00 to raise, and will be hosting a few more fundraising events over the coming weeks. Of course, no donation is too small – so, if you haven’t already – please make your way to my fund raising page (which can be found in the top left corner of my blog) and contribute to this worthy cause. Maybe for the next fundraiser I’ll give my favorite marketing manager a call again. Safe bet, she’ll be out of the office, eating lunch, at 9:00 am.

No comments:

Post a Comment