Fund Raiser

by Graeme

“Thank you, Mr. Kennedy. Have a good weekend!”

“Same to you, Paul.” The elderly gentleman turned his walker around and headed inside his house.

Paul stuck the cash into his back pocket and pulled out the list from his shirt pocket.

“Where to next?” Christine asked.

“The Fitzgeralds’ in the next street over.” Paul slipped the paper back into his pocket. “I’m glad we organised this during the week so we don’t have to go looking for work today. We’ve got a full weekend of mowing and gardening ahead of us.”

Christine slipped an arm around Paul’s waist. “You mean you organised it. As soon as I told you what Rick was planning, you were out knocking on doors and ringing people.”

Paul shrugged sheepishly. “It was something I felt I needed to do. It’s not going to be easy, though.”

“It’s all in a good cause.”

Paul sniffed but didn’t say anything. Christine respected his silence as the two walked quickly towards their next job.

It was one of those semi-spontaneous things, where one person had an idea, and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Rick mentioned that he was going to raise some money for a particular cause, and the word spread by phone and email. Some of the other teenagers were making it a contest to see who could raise the most money over the weekend.

They were halfway to the Fitzgeralds’ house when Christine’s phone rang.

“Marcia! How are things going there?” Christine could hear the sound of a car horn in the background.

“It’s looking busy. Mum’s driving me around to the first party, now.”

“Better you than me. I don’t know how you intend to entertain a group of eight-year-olds for two hours — that sounds like hell on Earth.”

Marcia laughed. “All kids love a clown. If it goes well, I might even start doing this regularly. It’ll make for some nice pocket money.”

“If that’s what you want to do.” Christine rolled her eyes at the thought. “Paul and I have got two really long days — I think it’s something like twelve hours each day. We’re going to crash tomorrow night.”

“I think you’ll end up making more than me, if that’s the case. I’ve only got three parties for the weekend. The pay’s good, but it’s not constant work.”

Christine glanced down the street. “I’m going to have go soon — we’re almost at our next job. Did you hear what anyone else is doing?”

“I heard that Steve’s down at the market, selling CDs and computer games.”

“CDs? I didn’t think that Steve had that many.” Christine asked a question of Paul with her eyes. He shrugged.

“From what I was told, his brother and parents have donated some to the cause. He was saying he wanted to earn the most money of everyone.”

“Good for him, if he does, but I’ve been to the market. Selling isn’t easy.”

“True. I know Penny is busking in the main street but I’m not sure of the rest.”

“Greg wanted to do a car wash — he had some crazy idea about doing it for free, but asking for donations. He said guilt would make people give more that way. It was only when Jane pointed out that the current water restrictions don’t allow car washes that he gave up on it. I think he’s planning on doing a collection at the local sports grounds today and another at church tomorrow.”

“He’s the sort that could do well at that. People find it easier to give to someone with a smiling personality.”

“It’ll be interesting to see what everyone brings in, but every cent counts — it doesn’t matter what each person does.” Christine stopped when Paul turned into a driveway. “Got to go. Good luck!”

“Thanks! Same to you.”

* * *

“How much did we make?” Christine asked.

Paul looked up from where he was counting and grinned. “All up, $380. Not bad for just you and me in two days of work.”

Christine rolled her shoulders to try to relieve the aches. “They’ve been long days, though. I wouldn’t want to do this every weekend.”

Paul slipped the notes into his wallet and headed to the computer. “Time to put the money in.”

Christine watched as Paul logged onto the web site and filled in the form. “Hey! You said $380, not $540.”

Paul paused in his typing but didn’t look at his girlfriend. “I don’t really need a new iPod yet.” There was a faint quiver in his voice.

Christine hugged Paul and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I love you.”

* * *

On Monday morning, Andrew went to the printer and picked up the automatic report on the weekend donations. He had only been working for Yellow Ribbon Australia for three months. He frowned — there were a lot more pages than normal. He scanned the pages, checked some details, and then headed in to see his boss.

“Sally, you’ll want to see this.”

Sally took the report and flicked through the pages. She stopped at the same point that Andrew had.

“Is there some sort of glitch? They all show the same names.”

Andrew shook his head. “They’re not the same amounts, and there are a few in the middle with other names. I checked the details of where they came from. They’re all different. We’ve received hundreds of donations — thousands of dollars — where everyone put them in as if they were from the same people.”

Sally frowned. “Those names… are they…?”

Andrew nodded. “The two teenagers who committed suicide last week.”

This story is dedicated to the memory of Jodie Gater and Stephanie Gestier.

Yellow Ribbon Australia was a programme designed by young people for the benefit of young people. It was a help seeking/peer support programme, with a simple aim: To create an environment which encourages and empowers young people to ask for help in a time of need. It further aimed to educate the community to know how to respond to the needs of young people.

For those wishing to donate to a similar cause, please consider Every suicide is a tragedy that could be prevented.

Copyleft symbol CopyLeft April 2007 Graeme

This story is published under the strictures of CopyLeft. It may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express consent of the author. The only requirement is that the CopyLeft designation be left in place as well as the CopyLeft holder (Graeme). This work also subscribes to the precepts of the Creative Common license.