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The valley of perpetual fundraising

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Mary Rea
Mary Rea

In school district 350, which includes Mazama, Winthrop, Twisp and Carlton, there are about 1,700 households. There are also approximately 170 organizations in need of money.  It’s always for a good cause, and everybody tries to pitch in, but how many spaghetti dinners and silent auctions can anyone attend? That’s what we ask each other.

My boys began their fundraising training in grade school. The World Famous Chocolate man came to an assembly.  He told everyone the candy was so good he personally ate a bar every hour all day long.

That sounded easy enough to sell.

The top sales prizes went to kids who peddled 20 cases containing 36 bars each. My son was determined to win the big prize.

While Aaron headed out on his bike to hit up the nearest neighbor a mile down the road, in Winthrop and Twisp kids lugging cases of chocolate bars swarmed through town. Residents were kept busy answering doorbells rung by earnest candy bar salespeople.  Competition turned cutthroat. Big kids elbowed little kids off porches. Best friends stopped speaking over disputed territory.

In a small town where everybody knows everybody and many are related, adults felt obligated to buy candy from everybody who stopped by. Some parents got so sick of the whole thing they bought up all their offsprings’ candy, just to get them off the streets.

When the sale was over Aaron sold 42 candy bars. Not bad in Mazama where the downtown population is 2. Out here in the suburbs nobody was hungry for chocolate for a long time.

While my sons did what they could to help raise money for their school, the contributions of Hank Konrad of Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp and Mike Walker, owner of the Red Apple Market in Winthrop, to the well being of all of our community cannot be overestimated. I’m sure over the years between them they have contributed well over a million dollars to individuals and groups in need. I can’t remember hearing of either of them ever turning anyone down, whether it is a request for a donation of 25 paper cups right on up to thousands of dollars for various educational needs.

Smaller businesses get hit up just about as often. For those owners, it’s not possible to donate to everybody and still stay profitable, so they have to pick and choose — a difficult spot to be put in.

The rest of us go on doing what we can, attending fundraisers, pledging for laps at the Twisp pool, donating to be sure senior citizens have enough to eat. If we don’t, who will?

Mary Rea is author of the novel “Ladies Night Out.”  Her blog, which follows where her mind wanders, is at  She can be reached at