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Miss Manners: Raising funds with dignity

Dear Miss Manners: I feel obligated to help my fellow co-workers’ kids when a new fundraising catalog is brought in to support school and events.

I, too, am selling items to help raise money to lessen the financial blow for my daughter’s dance class tuition, costumes, etc. However, I can’t exactly afford to keep buying things from co-workers who are also selling things. But I feel it’d be rude not to, especially since I am asking them to do the same for me.

What would be the proper etiquette for dealing with this?

Gentle Reader: As you have experienced, embarrassment is an important component in this method of raising money. The idea is to use social connections to pressure people into buying things they may not otherwise want, or even that they cannot afford.

Miss Manners is aware of the urgency with which extra sources of money are needed in the school system. But using schoolchildren to cause this embarrassment teaches them a bad lesson.

It is different from the old method, when they were expected to provide a service – typically, car-washing or baking – that could make them proud of their ability to earn and contribute.

Miss Manners suggests that you work, instead, on devising a dignified way for the children to earn money. Her guess is that organizing them to help adults learn how to use their computers and smartphones would reap a small fortune. You may then, in good conscience, decline to participate in reciprocal, embarrassing buying.

Reacting to brother’s snub

Dear Miss Manners: I found out earlier this week that my brother was marrying his longtime girlfriend in a state 2,500 miles away.

They were holding a “housewarming party” where they were going to also have a “surprise” wedding. My parents happened to be there, and my mother emailed me the information. Over the last 24 hours, she has sent pictures of the “happy event” and clearly expects a response.

Since he didn’t have the courtesy to tell me that he was even getting married, I’ve been ignoring the texts and emails.

Do I owe the “happy couple” anything?

Gentle Reader: It’s your brother.

Do you really want to break with him over his not having had a big wedding with advance notice?

Miss Manners does not imagine that this event was long planned. Her guess is that at most, they were having a housewarming party anyway, and decided that they didn’t need to plan a different event for their informal wedding ceremony. But like your mother, Miss Manners expects you to do something. More specifically, she expects you to congratulate your brother and welcome your new sister-in-law.