Probably autumn. I don’t know this because of the temperature dropping or the leaves turning or the sweaters unfurling from the cedar chest. None of that happens where I live. Celebrating the season in a different way.

For me, and I’m sure many others, fall means an annual ritual that is hard to escape. School fundraisers are in full swing, and they come in many forms. Haven’t made it yet? Don’t worry. You will soon.

After a brief hiatus during the pandemic, when social distancing saved us a lot of money, cash requests are back in full swing. I noticed this when I received several calls in one week from parents and little people in my life. The texts included links to donate, buy, sponsor.

This, I told myself, is who I have become: an open wallet. Or at least a ready loan. And thank God I have the means to please those I love most.

The first appeal came from a newly graduated high school student from Georgia. “Please donate,” was the caption under the image, which my old eyes struggled to read on the tiny phone screen. In this case, I didn’t have to flip through pages of random products. She wanted cold, hard cash. Thirty bucks was the minimum. I Venmoed her mother and convinced myself that I had earned brownie points – until I found out that another grandmother had cashed out.

There is no justice.

Not even a month passed, when the same sixth-grader had her hand spread again. All I had to do was click on the website and enter her student code. This time, the minimum “donation” amount has jumped to $50, which is quite a lot considering that our budget line labeled “family charity” has to be shared among a large number of deserving students. Seven of my eight grandchildren and all of my great-nephews and great-nieces are in school, making them year-round foodies.

Anyway, I guess I have to be lenient because requests are pinging my phone regularly. I pledged a dollar per lap for the eighth grade event and was relieved to learn that the school administration had limited the number of laps completed. Given the energy level of this particular grandchild, I would have to put in a home equity line.

The latest appeal, received just this week, was worded in a way that touched the heart as much as possible: “I need your help! We are raising $40,000 to offset the cost of the general admissions field trips. Will you please help me reach my goal?”

The exclamation point in the first sentence and the use of the word “purpose” got me. I’m a jerk to an outsider. So I purchased Ground Cover Thyme Creeping Mat, which I am very happy about. The catalog photo looked great, although I won’t tell you how much the item cost me. It would encourage every school-aged Tom, Dick, and Harry to harass me.

Fundraising isn’t about every cup of Cuban coffee. Husband, a retired school teacher, is outraged that children should be begging for an educational experience that should be funded entirely by our tax dollars. Moreover, there are many school communities that do not benefit from the generosity of the extended family, widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

All are valid, but I find myself automatically responding to these requests. I helped sell candy and gift wrapping throughout the decades of my five children’s academic careers. I manned the concession stands. I directed drivers to parking lots during sporting events. And once I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs at a NASCAR race.

Yes, I have done a lot, and there is still a lot to do. This is my way of putting my money where my heart is. Now if only our elected officials would do the same.

Ana Vesiana-Suarez writes about family and social issues. Email her or visit her website Follow through @AnaVeciana.

©2022 Ana Veciano-Suarez. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.