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School sends funny letter offering parents a creative way to not volunteer

The Parent Teacher Organization at an Alabama high school is telling parents they can opt out of volunteering — for a price.
by Terri Peters / / Source: TODAY

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At the start of the school year, getting kids into a routine is enough work to exhaust any parent. Add in the demands of back-to-school night, volunteer breakfasts and school supply shopping and by mid-September, most parents are wishing the school would give them a moment to catch their breath before adding to their list of obligations.

So when Alabama mom Briana Woods received a unique letter from the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at her kids' school, she was quick to applaud their new fundraising approach. In a Facebook post that has been shared by nearly 40,000 people, Woods called the letter, which allows parents to make a monetary donation in lieu of volunteering for the PTO, something she has needed for "the past 11 years of school life with her kids."

The letter offers parents three options. For a $15 donation, parents will be added to the email list for PTO volunteers. For a $25 donation, parents agree that they "are so busy (or lazy)" that they "wouldn't have responded to any phone calls, emails or sign-up genius lists all year," and opt out of the need to volunteer.

But it's the final option — available for a donation of $50 or more — that has most parents laughing.

"Here's $50 (or more) to forget my name and face and not ask me for anything else all year except to complete this form," the letter reads.

After the letter's viral attention, Emmy Sorrells, president of the Auburn High School PTO, posted a letter to the organization's website, explaining the story behind the funny note

"I created this the night before meet the teacher and obviously I didn’t proofread very well as it contained some embarrassing grammatical errors," Sorrells says in the letter. "While only a handful of parents stopped by the table to take a form, it was then posted by an AHS parent on Facebook."

"I hope you will appreciate our humor and consider supporting the AHS PTO with any donation, great or small," Sorrells' letter continues. "Let’s show the nation how it should be done ... all proceeds will 100% benefit Auburn High School by providing much needed teacher grants and to show our appreciation and support for the teachers, staff and administration of Auburn High School throughout the year."

"It's been a little crazy with all the attention our little letter has gotten, but I think it's fantastic, Sorrells told TODAY Parents in an email. "It obviously has struck a nerve with parents these days — we just want to write a guilt-free check and support our schools, but not be nickel and dimed to death every time we turn around."

Sorrells says she'd seen similar ideas floating around in other schools, and decided to send the letter as a tongue-in-cheek way to get parents to donate financially to the PTO.

"The gist is the same everywhere — parents are overworked, overextended and just plain over being asked to sell something every time they turn around," Sorrells continued. "So I just thought, if almost everyone I talk to about fundraising feels this way, why not just ask for the money and let them donate? Then they can be guilt-free when the numerous emails asking for this and that start churning out."

The pay-to-not-volunteer seems to be a hit with many parents.

"I'd be keen to pay $50 and no voluntary work...sounds perfect," one parent comments.

Another says: "Finally the idea is taking off.. $50 seems cheap, I'm in."

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