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Guest Scot Meyers

Wanting your advice

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... and I doubt anyone will walk away saying "I would have enjoyed the display, but when I saw the donation box, I felt so guilty that it ruined everything..."

Actually, I am one of those people, and it's that very reason why I don't have one.

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I can't say that it would ruin the experience...but I would feel bad if I were out looking for a free night of fun for the family and saw a box asking for donations and I didn't have money to give.

For charity...I will dig out my last quarter just to slip something in there but for a private display..nope...

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Remember, it is a "donation" box...no one is obligated to pay, it just allows those that feel inclined to pay an opportunity to do so. I have been to large displays in the past, I felt they worked hard and that the value to me and others was well worth the $3 or so I would drop in the box. It is really all about the people that come to see the display, if they wish to donate, they will, if they don't wish to donate, they won't, and I doubt anyone will walk away saying "I would have enjoyed the display, but when I saw the donation box, I felt so guilty that it ruined everything..."

Each person has their reason for not collecting money to offset cost and that is what they think is best. What you do with your display is your decision, if you allow a chance for others to "give" back to the provider of the joy they have received...then that is perfectly fine. I am not sure where your donation box is....but if it is subtle, I don't believe people will feel obligated to donate, but only obliged. Keep your heart in the right place and you will be fine.

Well said!!!!:D

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I know I would give a donation for a large display if it was to offset costs. I was going to take a donation box and make it for our display and then since I run with the fire company, the donations would go to the VOLUNTEER fire company. Im not sure if thats the same thing. Also one other note, we go to whats called LIGHTS IN THE PARKWAY in allentown pa at a park near the Little Lehigh Creek. Its about 1/4 mile long and all large wireframes for a commercial display. That is like 4-9 dollars depending on what day of the week. Some days there are charities, but others there is no charity and it goes toward the electric/maintenance. So in a way I would tell you to go ahead and do a donation box for 1 year and try it, if nothing happens ok. If it seems to do good, maybe half the display time do it for yourself and other nights for a charity. Seems fine to try something, never hurts.

I thought about doing the same thing with donating the money to the fire department but since I am a member, it didn't seem ok. So my donations will go to the local food pantry. As far as Scot's situation, I still have the same opinion. I say put out the box but make it subtle. If people feel guilty about donating, maybe they don't donate enough then. I donate money and time throughout the year and I don't feel guilty when I don't donate money to something. Even though it is a touchy subject, do it for one year and see how it goes. If you feel guilty about keeping the money, then donate it. If you get too many complaints, don't do it next year. Or keep half and donate the rest.

You could also do a 50/50 raffle. That way someone will get something out of it and you still make a little for yourself. I don't know what the legal side of that would be? Those are just some different ideas to think about.

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If people feel guilty about donating, maybe they don't donate enough then.

So you are saying that I'm not charitable? That's a pretty bold blanket statement.

There ARE people out there who when asked are compelled - and that is not charity. Some people see NOT putting money in the barrel as an insult to the person asking - and we don't like to insult anyone. The decision to put out a box is a personal one, but please don't downplay the guilt factor.

Perhaps, charity starts at home: Consider the cost of your display as charity GIVEN to the community. Otherwise, what you are asking for is a 'voluntary viewing fee' to cover the costs of your hobby.

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I'm one of those that feel guilty when I can't give...I hardly ever pass a bucket with out chipping something in.

But around the holidays with so many hands out one can only do so much...but it still hurts my feelings not to be able to give to everyone who asks...

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So you are saying that I'm not charitable? That's a pretty bold blanket statement.

There ARE people out there who when asked are compelled - and that is not charity. Some people see NOT putting money in the barrel as an insult to the person asking - and we don't like to insult anyone. The decision to put out a box is a personal one, but please don't downplay the guilt factor.

Perhaps, charity starts at home: Consider the cost of your display as charity GIVEN to the community. Otherwise, what you are asking for is a 'voluntary viewing fee' to cover the costs of your hobby.

It was simply a possible reason why someone would feel guilty. I don't feel guilty when I walk past something and don't donate but I also feel that I do my part. If you feel you donate enough but still feel guilty that is fine. Like most have said, doing what Scot is proposing is not what I would do, I was just simply giving him options to go about it.

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Quite the discussion.

For my part, if there is a donation box, I don't feel guilty about not donating, I feel Required to donate. I think of it as a fee, not a donation. And if you're going to charge a fee, then do it -- start a business and charge a drive through fee. I pay it willingly every year at the nearby (Como) park or the zoo.

I decorate because I like the the lights. If others share them, that is great, but tha is not why I do them. The best "donation" I've received was the little girl from the nearby town of Hugo that came to our door with a hand-written/drawn thank you card and said she looked forward to our lights every year as a special part of her Christmas. I can't imagine asking her for a dollar or a can of soup.

I've been fully employed, unemployed, and underemployed and I've still decorated. If money is an issue, cut back the lights, cut back the time, or cut back the number of days. Get back to why you do this. If you are doing it for money, fine, start a business. Otherwise adjust to what you can afford and enjoy the season!

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I should of said I agree with what BaldEagle said. And lets not forget the thanks we get when we see the smiles on peoples faces while they visit our display.

Cindy

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Cindy,

I was glad to see your comments agreeing. I actually went back in to re-read mine as I was thinking that maybe it was to direct. But he asked for comments and it obviously is something that I've thought about before. It comes up again around July 4th when people start wondering how they are going to pay for their hobby of fireworks.

Mike

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I don't wish to get involved in the pro/con politics, but if you do accept donations, make sure the box is emptied every night. I would advocate a box you could secure down while in use, but unlock and completely remove while not in use. Like the way the Salvation Army Kettles work. Just so no one's tempted to break into the box in the wee hours, find nothing there...and trash your display in retaliation.

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