Thursday, 12 December 2013
Calendar Exposes School Financing Problems
When bake sales and walk-a-thons aren't enough to save critical school programs, what's a community to do? Members of the Long Tom Grange in Junction City, Oregon, found a solution: they "took it all off" and (discreetly) posed for a calendar that drew media attention -- and orders -- from around the world. Thrilled with the project's success, the grange men hope the calendar also will expose the naked truth about school financing. Included: A description of the calendar fundraising project.
Bake sales long have been a mainstay of school fundraising efforts, but one Oregon community decided to market a different sort of "bun." Tired of watching budget cuts result in increased class size and shrinking programs in Junction City School District 69, 12 members of the local Long Tom Grange decided to bare it all for their schools.
The product of their civic mindedness is the Men of the Long Tom Grange Calendar. Advertised as a "shameless fundraising project for the public schools of Junction City, Oregon," the calendar features the grangers, all married and ages 45 to 70, posed mostly-- but discreetly -- naked.
Suddenly, Junction City is home to a year's worth of celebrities -- but the calendar men aren't complaining.
"We're up in that age category where we're not that concerned about appearances," explained Larry Engels, a contractor also known as Mr. April. "We're not going to win blue ribbons in any category. Plus, we're all hams. At least, I am. We'll soak up any fame that comes our way."
Fame is indeed raining down on the calendar crew. Coverage from national media including CNN and The Today Show spurred so much Internet traffic that the calendar Web site almost imploded. The group also negotiated with other talk show hosts, including Jay Leno, Sharon Osbourne, and Wayne Brady about possible appearances. And did someone say "movie?" It's not out of the question.
Not only that, but at $17 each, calendar sales are booming; and it looks like the photos of the grangers will be decorating homes in all 50 states and a few foreign countries.
Public response "is beyond our wildest expectations," said Robin Pfeiffer (Mr. March), a retired teacher and a vineyard owner. "We thought we might get more flak, but because it is for education, we haven't. The reception and support throughout the community and nation has been unanimous. We are flabbergasted and overwhelmed."
While enjoying the "exposure," the calendar men also know they are raising awareness of a serious issue. "About 50 percent of this is to highlight the plight of education," Pfeiffer said. "We're not trying to just raise money, but also to call attention to the situation so that they [state, federal governments] do something to fund education. People just can't go around dropping their drawers for the schools. We need help from the legislature and the voters."
DROPPING DRAWERS FOR A SERIOUS CAUSE
The idea for a calendar was proposed while grange members were brainstorming a fundraising project to help the local schools. Such programs as art and music were eliminated or sharply reduced because of budget cuts, and 20 of the districts 111 teachers were laid off before school started, according to Jim Bradshaw (aka Mr. August), a country club manager and member of the Junction City board of education.
"The fact is, the s