Mattress sales are the trendy new way for Joliet area school programs to fundraise
One year many years ago, when my oldest sons were in Cub Scouts, they had to sell $2 double candy bars for a pack fundraiser right after Easter.
As one might expect, the boys had a hard time selling them.
Through the years, between my kids and the kids who came to our door raising money, I've seen many different items offered for sale: cookies, gift wrap, magazine subscriptions.
Joliet Central High School band, which will hold its second sale on March 23, and Lincoln-Way East High School music boosters, which will hold its first sale April 5, aren't the only local schools hosting these sales.
The Minooka Community High School choir held one in November and Plainfield East High School held its third one in February, which benefited the school's bands.
Other than the fact that buying a new mattress is one of those items people put off until they absolutely need one, and that proceeds benefit local students, Don Stinson, director of bands at JCHS, said this is one of the easiest fundraisers the band program has ever held.
"The company [Custom Fundraising Solutions] comes in and sets it up and leaves," Stinson said. "We have a few parents guiding people and a few students helping out, but there was very little work on our end."
The mattress sale is low-effort for the consumer, too. No carrying or heavy lifting.
"The people that will show up that day will not walk home with a mattress," Stinson said. "They will make their purchases at our showroom, which is really our student galleria, and within two to four weeks they will get their mattress delivered to their house."
Marketing the event last year was mainly word of mouth, Stinson said, adding that a colleague recommended the event to him. The band program raised a little over $2,000.
"It wasn't a crazy lot of money but it was our first time doing it," Stinson said. "This year we're looking at a goal of $6,000. Some schools really go gun-ho about it and end up making $10 to $15,000 that day."
Proceeds from the event will fund band trips and expenses for other musical opportunities the school can't cover, Stinson said. He expects an ever bigger turnout this year.
"I know last year we had some people that came in and thought it was weird," Stinson said. "But they reached back out to us this year."
Mike Kotze, the general ways and means chair for Lincoln-Way East music boosters, said the boosters will hold its first sale on April 6.
Kotze heard about the idea from a band director at a Naperville school. Like Stinson, Kotze has moderate expectations for the first year and higher ones for next year once the community hears about the event.
Again like Stinson, Kotze said a huge benefit of this type of fundraiser is that is doesn't tax their volunteers.
"That's the beauty of it," Kotze said. "We don't have to do much. Our other events call for a lot of student and parent volunteers. You don't want to wear people out asking them again and again and again. With the mattress sale, we just have to get the world out and the company takes care of everything else."
Kotze said the boosters will continue their other fundraisers – the chrysanthemum sale in the fall, the evergreen sale around the Christmas holidays, the Lenten fish fries – from 5 to 8 p.m. March 22 and April 5 – and the spring car wash.
Stinson said when he was a JCHS band member he sold apples and candy bars. But the notion of out-of-the-box fundraisers is nothing new.
"I heard from some people that in the '70s, they sold carpet shampoo," Stinson said. "The kids would have to go to people's houses to test it out with a toothbrush."