It's not unusual for people to do silly things to raise money — either for themselves or for good causes. A longtime game show requires contestants to wear crazy costumes, and sports fans sometimes compete in goofy games as entertainment during halftime. And at schools, educators have had their heads shaved or been slimed for fundraisers.
But a recent all-in-good-fun effort that sent teachers "crawling for cash" at a South Dakota junior hockey league game crossed a line. Though it was supposed to be for laughs, the images of teachers diving for dollars came across as sad and demeaning.
On Dec. 11, a "Dash For Cash" competition was held in Sioux Falls during which 10 local teachers were selected to raise funds for school projects. They were given five minutes to scoop up 5,000 $1 bills that were spread out on carpet in the center of the rink.
The Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct, which donated the cash, sponsored the competition to help teachers — who volunteered to participate — raise money for schools.
Yet after images of teachers scrambling on their hands and knees to stuff bills into their T-shirts went viral, the understandable pushback was swift and furious. Both locally and nationally, educator groups and others rightly condemned the activity.
Loren Paul, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said that although the cash dash was well-intentioned, it also "underscores the fact that educators don't have the resources necessary to meet the needs of their students. ... As a state, we shouldn't be forcing teachers to crawl around on an ice rink to get the money they need to fund their classrooms."
Fortunately, the sponsors issued an apology this week, according to the Argus Leader newspaper. They said that although the intent was to have a "positive, fun experience," they now understand "how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole."
The good that came out of this unseemly incident is that the South Dakota sponsors will contribute an additional $15,500 to area teachers for their schools. And stories about the incident prompted more donations — the kind that don't require degrading stunts.