For the second year in a row, I have helped organize and worked all last week at the Book Fair at our local elementary school. We use a local vendor, rather than Scholastic, and the Fair always has amazing books I’ve never seen before. This is not a fund raiser for the school- we pass on the discounts to the children and families. I love seeing children come in, having emptied their piggy banks, to buy their books- one girl gave me close to $20 in change yesterday to buy a stack of books, and she seemed so proud and happy. The PTO makes sure every child can buy a book, even if they have not brought their own money, making it inclusive as well.
One of the most interesting things is that we have a shortage/overage list. This means if a child is within a dollar of their budget, and is a few cents short, the PTO will cover the cost. Many times, the Moms volunteering will pay the extra few cents themselves. We also put a spot on the forms that go home that allow the families to donate any change to the Book Fair. Some people do, some people do not. Miraculously, every day, when counting up the receipts, the shortage is always much less than the overage. The money always works out. Even though we have the security of knowing that the PTO would cover any of these small shortages, we always end up in the black by a decent margin.
What I love most about this is what it says about community. We could look at something like the book fair as a mere week long store set up in the little gym. Maybe it has educational value by teaching children a bit about money and budgets, but it is largely a small book store. But the way the moms come together to volunteer; the way the donation/shortage money always works out; the joy on the face of the kids; the books bought for the teacher’s wish lists all make it to the classrooms; all of this is part of what drives home the point that our school is a great community. It is a place of joy and learning, of giving and caring, and even when we have small complaints or concerns, the spirit of togetherness and the joy in making sure each child has at least one book of their own to take home- that really makes me proud to be involved with this event each and every year.