Fundraising - one of the newest "four-letter" words in Oxford's Dictionary. Oh, yes - I realize that there are actually 11 letters and Oxford has not yet listed any negative connotations in the dictionary, but ask any parent of a school age child and I think they will be quick to agree with my assessment.

Many moons have risen and set since I was the age my children are now. I am aware that one's memories tend to grow a little fuzzy in that time gap. And, being the mother of four very active and involved children, I understand that fundraising is an essential form of cash flow for many extracurricular activities at any grade level.

However, a couple years ago I was shocked when my kindergartner brought home a fundraising sell sheet from school. I certainly don't recall being asked to sell things at that age. Now, I realize that such endeavors are common place and my stomach only slightly turns when my four-year-old expresses her eagerness to get out and peddle her own fundraising sell sheet.

But all the fundraising efforts still strike me as a touch of unnecessary overkill when I realize that friends, family members and neighbors slightly cringe when they see me approach with the children in tow. Since the start of school, our family has been involved with nine individual fundraising campaigns through our children: three from school, three from scouts and three from soccer. And all in rapid succession.

Paired with the fact that my children are already aware of how many shopping days remain until Christmas and that they simply must get their wish lists together this minute, I can understand why our extended family might be hesitant to invite us over or pick up of the phone when I call.

I never considered myself a material-driven person, but I am probably more so inclined than I realize. But it also seems to me that, as parents, we are forced to counteract the constant stream of worldly demands that our children are bombarded with every single day from places that are supposed to be safe havens.

What happened to fall carnivals and bake sales, car washes and raffle tickets? I understand that those methods are "old school," redundant and out-dated, but perhaps it would at least show our children that you work for what you get instead of wearing out the path to Grandma's bank account.

Whitney Lee is a wife, mother of four and executive director of Erath County Meals on Wheels. She is also a member of the Empire-Tribune's community columnists. Her column appears on the third Sunday of every month in Lifestyles.