Begging at Publix, for a cause

Future Problem Solvers unite in the quest for international domination.
By: 
May. 24, 2016

When I finish with my work at the office for the day, I usually don’t like to stand in the sun in front of Publix and beg people for money. But I was fortunate enough to help my son do just that on May 19, as we attempted to raise funds for the Future Problem Solvers’ trip to the international competition, which is hosted at Michigan State University this year.

There was a good variety of responses. Some were so kind it might have brought a tear to my eye if I weren’t so concerned with getting heat stroke.

One man stood and listened to the boys talk while his ice cream melted in his grocery bags. The humanity!

“I can support you,” one woman said, “but I want you to give your spiel.”

Jackson, my 12-year-old son, and his friend Paul Grau, both students of super-teacher Jennifer Colindres at Bunnell Elementary School, explained to the woman that they’d been working with groups of students to help inspire people to grow their own food in gardens (G.R.E.E.N.), and to be aware of all resources available for provide for their pets (Animal Assisters).

This woman nodded and listened intently before giving a $5 bill. Another man listened to the spiel on the way in, then brought back a $20 bill on the way out.

Most of the shoppers at Publix weren’t interested. Some made sure we knew it.

Jearlyn Dennie coordinates the gift of a car to Future Problem Solvers from Sebastian Martins, owner of the dealership. (Courtesy photo)

“When I win the lottery, I’ll help,” one man said as he walked by.

Others put their heads down and did their best impressions of Olympic speed walkers as they brushed past us.

“You want a donation or what?” another man said.

Jackson said yes, he did want a donation.

“Why didn’t you say so?” the man said, with a frown. But, he gave him a dollar.

Another man had money in his hand, and when the boys started explaining their projects, he said, “I don’t care what it’s for, just take it.”

In total, Jackson and Paul raised about $260 in just two hours, while refining their skills of talking to strangers, dealing with rejection, and, most importantly, begging.