The West Fargo (N.D.) Hockey Association serves kids beginning at age four all the way through high school. Like many youth organizations, regardless of sport, West Fargo holds fundraisers to keep its programs going.
One of the most expensive elements of playing hockey is paying for ice time. Ice has to be put down and maintained. Buildings must be kept cold year-round. The costs can seem astronomical compared to other sports where all you may need is grass or a blacktop.
Many organizations resort to fundraisers that reflect the interests of their communities. Maybe the area is known for its wings or pizza. In Philadelphia, several organizations sell cheesesteaks. Makes sense. If nothing else, you can always do a car wash or candy sale.
West Fargo residents, however, have slightly different interests. Gun raffles are very popular and very lucrative for participating organizations. Yes, you read that right. The West Fargo Hockey Association is having a gun raffle on March 15 - an event expected to raise $90,000 for the league.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, West Fargo has absorbed national criticism for being "insensitive" to Newtown and the raging gun debate in America. West Fargo's raffle list includes some 200 weapons - including the now infamous AR-15.
This article is not advocating for expanded gun control nor is it defending everyone's Second Amendment rights. That's for the other guy on that other website to rant and rave about. This article is about kids and the image conveyed by the organizations that serve them.
Fundraisers would be a lot easier if youth organizations went for the easy money. Yet, there are some things you can't associate with kids. Perception is reality. Even if kids aren't allowed at the event itself, it just looks bad.
For example, a friend of your organization may be a cigarette manufacturer. It's probably not a good idea to say, "Today's track meet is brought to you by Brand X cigarettes." The damage done to a youth league through such a campaign may be irreparable.
A good payday may help for a season, but a poor image is much harder to escape. Be careful of what you do in the name of helping kids. The end does not always justify the means.