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PTA with a sense of humor gives parents way to get out of bake sale

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FILE -- A close-up photograph of a chocolate cupcake. Credit: Sara Bonisteel/CNN

ROCKWALL, Texas — With three children, Dee Heinz’s family has participated in just about every bake sale and class fundraiser known to the modern PTA.

As most parents will attest, all the work peddling wrapping paper, candles and chocolate to friends and relatives can be overwhelming, she said.

“When you have three children and extracurriculars and homework, one simple fundraiser is never just one simple fundraiser,” said Heinz, who lives in Dallas. “It’s usually three and we can’t approach the same family members for all three of them.”

Suffice to say she was more than pleased when her 12-year-old brought home an “Alternative Fundraiser” notice from her school PTA.

“This fundraiser is in lieu of sending students home with the task of selling door-to-door, collecting money, and delivering goods. Please help us avoid that by supporting our PTA with your donations, and helping us achieve our goals to support our students and faculty.”

The options seemed too good to be to true: a $15 donation because “I do not want to bake so here is the money I would have spent on those cupcakes.” Or, a $50 donation to avoid having to “walk, swim or run in any activity that has the word ‘thon’ in it. Here is the money I would have spent on my child’s ‘free’ T-shirt.”

But they are for real. Her response? “We were cheering,” she said. “We thought it was hilarious and a breath of fresh air.”

Delighted, Heinz posted a picture of the notice on her Facebook page last week with the caption “I love that our school PTA has a great sense of humor.” She blurred the school’s name to shield it from unwanted attention and asked CNN to do the same as a condition of sharing the photo.

By Thursday evening, it had been shared more than 90,000 times and spawned a Scary Mommy post, “Let’s All Follow In The Footsteps Of This PTA Fundraiser And Let The Bake Sale Die.”

“The fundraising ‘business’ is out of hand. And it’s really hard as a working parent to keep up with these extra events that are required to show your support,” writer Maria Guido said. “There’s no shame in throwing money at something, sorry. I will join my kid’s PTA just to pitch this form. And if I have to leave with my head bowed in shame, so be it.”

Comments left on Heinz’s Facebook post echoed the sentiment.

“LOVE this. Yes, to all of the above,” as one person said.

“Every PTA should do this!” said another.

A handful of people stood by the fundraiser, saying it teaches children responsibility. Maybe so, Heinz said, but there are other ways for children to learn responsibility.

“They learn responsibility from making sure their homework is completed, or through extracurriculars like playing sports and being part of team,” she said. “They’re not lacking in opportunities to learn responsibility and there’s only so many hours in a day that you can commit to activities.”

Heinz said she is not advocating for all schools to get rid of the fundraiser. She understands that some schools might prefer traditional fundraisers. She simply appreciates that her school PTA is giving her family the option to choose how to spend their time and money.

“Fundraisers serve a purpose and I’d never want to diminish that. But for us this is the better option. Time is valuable, too.”