As I write this column, Children’s Fairyland is rained out for the day, but our intrepid staff works on, albeit indoors. I am perusing the purple folder, something I do every couple of weeks, all year long.

Inside the folder are letters from worthy schools and organizations asking us to donate Fairyland tickets to be used in raffles or silent auctions. Today there are about 30 of these “asks”—a typical number. I’d like to share a little bit about them.

Volunteers or staff members almost always produce the events, and I love the titles: “Into the Woods,” “The Mad Hatter (Everything but the Tea Party),” and “Shades of Blue.” Even more resonant than the themes are the causes served by the events: art supplies, accelerated reader programs, and science fairs to name a few.

Children’s Fairyland can’t make cash donations, and we tend to focus on regional preschools and elementary schools. We donate an average of 400 tickets a year, valued at nearly $13,000.

The rising cost of postage has necessitated a requirement that organizations provide self-addressed, stamped envelopes. Barbara Griffin is the person who processes all of the requests. Often she has to sort things out when well-meaning volunteers for the same event don’t communicate with each other, and when they show up in person or call, she has to gently steer them into the process we’ve established to keep it all straight.

Most of the letters point out the value not just to the recipients but to Fairyland as well. Here’s one of today’s letters:

“Donating an item is a great way to introduce potential customers to your company, providing you with the opportunity to form new, long-term relationships. Your donation will also serve as an introduction or reminder of the quality products/services that you provide to our local community.”

Yes, we know. But that’s not the main reason we give.

First, we’re aware of how hard it is these days to fund activities that we used to take for granted: libraries, art and music programs, and field trips, for example.

Second, we have first-hand knowledge of how valuable donated items are and what a big difference money can make for a small organization. Last year, Fairyland raised $22,915 from our silent auction, thanks to the generosity of local merchants and individuals. That money will be used to fund our outreach program for low-income and at-risk kids.

So I guess it’s true that what goes around comes around. What better investment can we all make but in our kids?

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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