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Candy Men

By Scott Smith in Miscellaneous on Sep 20, 2006 3:13PM

This morning the Trib’s Eric Zorn discusses what he calls the beginning of “to help my school season.” Now’s the time of year when young kids start going door-to-door selling wrapping paper, candy, etc. to raise money for their schools. While he supports the idea of giving kids some idea of what it’s like to earn money, he avoids putting the guilt on his co-workers or neighbors but hopes anyone selling Girl Scout Cookies stops at his house twice.

The Chicagoist office doesn’t see too many mini-Willy Lomans at its door, but we do see a lot of kids selling candy 2006_09_candy.JPGon the El or on the street, professing to be raising money for their schools, usually for uniforms or a school trip. More often than not, they’ve got some tattered flyer in their hand that explains their purpose, which they thrust into our peripheral vision as they hurriedly mumble a sales pitch that’s so lousy, it wouldn’t sell beer to a Cubs fan on a 90-degree day. Moreover, the flyer itself looks photocopied several times, and if you look around there’s often some shady adult hanging around nearby to collect the cash.

We’ve adopted a policy of not giving money to these kids, mainly because we’re not quite sure where it’s going. If the same kid came up to us and said “Hi, I fancy myself a bit of an entrepreneur and have bought this candy in bulk to sell at a high markup. Would you like to buy some?” we probably would. Because that kid’s got moxie. But ever since we made the mistake of giving money to someone who “just needs to get some gas to get back to the suburbs,” we’ve been more wary of scam artists. Even if they’re under four feet tall and offering us M&Ms.

Are we just bitter and jaded? Do you give money to kids on the street selling candy?