By Ashley Symons, Equal Exchange
I went to elementary school in the Midwest in the early ‘90s. Every fall, we entered the school gymnasium to get pumped up for our annual fundraiser. This kick-off event was meant to energize us to sell, with lures of all the prizes we could win if we sold the most candy bars, tubs of popcorn, or wrapping paper. The more you sell, the more you’ll win random stuff you really don’t need. Never did we talk about how what we were selling might impact people or places. Just get the most money, and you too could win a neon-pink kazoo keychain. Woo-hoo!
Fifteen years later, I’m so pleased to be a worker-owner at Equal Exchange
, where we offer schools a different kind of fundraising. My co-worker, Virginia Berman, started the Equal Exchange Fundraising Program
after getting requests from teachers and parents who wanted an alternative fundraiser. After three years, we’ve partnered with over 300 groups. And the momentum continues to grow every day.
So, what’s special about this fundraiser? Well, for one it offers fairly traded and organic coffee, tea, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit. It’s stuff that people already eat and drink, so it doesn’t feel wasteful like typical fundraisers. Plus, it’s fairly traded, so you can feel good knowing your fundraising dollars are supporting small-scale farmer co-ops and their communities. Additionally, the products are organic. The farmers use sustainable farming methods, without all those nasty pesticides and fertilizers. It’s better for them, it’s better for you and your kids, and it’s better for our earth. It's a win-win-win situation!
Equal Exchange also developed a Fair Trade and co-op economics curriculum
to accompany the Fundraising Program, to teach children that their everyday choices can make a difference in the lives of others. It’s free to download
on our web site! We really believe that change is on the horizon – and we need the help of future generations to make sure we are supporting farmers internationally, while also making efforts toward greening this planet of ours. All by choosing these yummy, healthy foods!
Sounds way better than a neon-pink kazoo keychain, if you ask me.
To find out more about the Equal Exchange Fundraising Program, please visit www.equalexchange.coop/fundraiser
Equal Exchange fundraising participants Delia Santos (left) and Lydia Santos (right) with their seventh grade teacher Kim Montgomery, from the Westchester Academy for International Studies in Houston, Texas