I'm running into somedifficulty in getting our FRG to accept the unconditional donation ofmoney that I raised (please note I am NOT an FRG volunteer...not even aKey Caller) from a direct sales food party I hosted. Part of it, I think, is amisunderstanding of the regulations and part of it is that theregulations themselves are entirely too strict.
When we werein Alaska, I was involved in our FRG. This was before the regulationsgoverning every aspect of a Family Readiness Group were put in place.We had a great FRG. Granted, this was pre-9.11 but it functioned well.We had great holiday parties, social events, and support events. Weraised enough money to support these activities and really had noproblems. Then the new regulations were put in place and everythingchanged.
We couldn't raise money the way we used to. Bakesales were restricted. Fundraisers were restricted. What the money weDID manage to raise was restricted in it's use. It was like runninginto a brick wall. Eventually, your head starts to hurt so you stopdoing that. Well, most of us do.
Fort Rucker was even worse. We tried to holdfundraisers on post to support the different activities inherent toflight school but everywhere we turned, we were restricted in what wecould sell, where we could sell it, when we could sell it, and to whomwe could sell it. You couldn't sell anything that competed with AAFESor DeCA. So that eliminates all food items, housewares, flowers, clothing, andtoiletries. Lovely. Never mind that DeCA didn't sell See's candy...theysold CHOCOLATE and that was close enough.
And you couldn'tsell to people outside of flight school. We couldn't go down toWal-Mart and host a bake sale to raise money. We could sell to our ownpeople but not to the local people within the community. So basicallywe had to fund our own activities.
I don't know about youbut if that's the case, I'm not going to waste my time holding a bakesale so that my own husband can spend $1 on a cookie that I couldeasily bake at home for 9 cents and not take 4 hours to sell. Which ispretty much what we're running into here too. Our unit's FRG is holdinga 50-50 raffle. The tickets are being sold only to unit members andtheir families. The winner will get 50% of the money raised throughticket sales and the rest will go to fund the homecoming party.
Sowe have to pay for a ticket for our OWN raffle that goes to support ourOWN homecoming party? Right. But I can't have my direct salesconsultant hand over a check for $300 as a donation. And yet we gripe,incessantly, about the fact that "the public doesn't support usmilitary families".
I wonder if it has ever occurred tothe people that design the darn regulations that the public doesn'tsupport military families because they literally cannot; that Army regulation 600-29 literally prevents the public fromfinancially contributing in any manner? The "Army Commander's Guide toFamily Readiness Group Operations" specifically states in paragraph2-3,
"Family Readiness Group External Fund-Raising...FRGs are notestablished for the purpose of being a fund-raising organization. FRGsmay not engage in fundraising activities beyond what was describedabove at paragraph 2-2, Informal Funds. The FRG has no authority toengage in external fundraising on or off post."
In addition,the regulation goes on to further state the restrictions uponUNSOLICITED donations of any kind. So, not only can FRGs NOT raisemoney, they can't accept monies offered to them out of the kindness ofthe hearts' of those offering. Yet FRGs are expectedtooffer up social activities, homecoming parties, volunteerrecognition, hail and farewell gatherings, and other social activitiesespecially in this era of increased OpTempo and high deployment rates.Therefore they have to do so by digging into the wallets of those theyare there to support.
Talkabout being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Something needs tochange. FRGs are damned if they do and damned if they don't. They can'traise funds in order to provide the services expected of them yet theservices ARE expected of them...by the families of the men and women wholeave them behind to go and fight for their country and to uphold theoath they swore when they joined the military.
Something needs to change.