Schenectady County

School fundraiser gives Mother’s Day gift ideas

As head of the school’s annual Mother’s Day plant sale, Joan Thompson helped children choose begonia

Joan Thompson loves the flower girls. And the flower boys.

She met dozens of both Friday at Rosendale Elementary School in Niskayuna. As head of the school’s annual Mother’s Day plant sale, Thompson helped children choose begonias, impatiens, Gerbera daisies, petunias and other flowers that will brighten Sunday for many moms.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” Thompson said of the sale. “I took it over about six years ago. The kids love it — they’re so excited about buying flowers for their moms.”

Mothers and fathers know all about the plan, and Thompson knows some parents give their kids money for potted plants that cost between $1 and $7. At $20, large hanging baskets overflowing with budding color were the big-ticket items.

Money raised will benefit the school’s parent-teacher organization.

Some children might have been planning surprises, though, because they were using their own funds.

“A lot of kids, I’ve heard them talk about trying to earn money this week,” Thompson said. “One woman said her son said to her last night, ‘What can I do tonight to make $3,’ because he wanted to buy something today.”

The sale began Thursday, and Thompson said 250 plants had been sold by Friday morning. Many of the flowers were purchased at West Shaker Farm in Albany; others came from the Thompson home garden.

Rosendale kindergartners were among the first shoppers Friday. Dozens of the 6-year-olds burst out of a side door for recess on the playground and rushed to Thompson’s temporary garden stand near the basketball court.

One of the kindergartners, Nicholas Petrillo, quickly found a potted plant, though he seemed unsure about his flower’s future.

“I’ll probably put it on my porch,” he said.

“Aren’t you going to give it to someone?” Thompson asked.

That gave Nick an idea.

“My mom!” he said.

Rosendale mothers working as sales clerks — Thompson’s son, Jack Goldstoff, is a fifth-grader — and reminded kids they would have to water their plants over the weekend. They cautioned them not to leave their new buds in backpacks or plastic bags until Sunday.

The mothers were patient as the kids shopped for impatiens, especially when they talked to the kindergartners, who are still learning about money.

“The first-graders have the math down a little more,” said mom Amy Soule. “They’ve been drilling all year. It gets easier as the older kids come.”

Miranda Pilato, 8, a third-grader, was one of the older kids.

“It gives you time to get something special for your mother,” she said, “without her having to use her own money.”

Thompson said the Gerbera daisies were the best sellers.

“Their color is so spectacular and they’re all familiar with daisies,” Thompson said.

“I think it’s the best fundraiser to work at the school,” Thompson added. “I get to pick out all the flowers. … I make sure I get everything I like because what’s left I end up buying and it ends up in my garden.”

Fiona Schlossberg, 8, and her friend Kate Pogue, 9, just seemed glad to be outside, and happy to be spending a little money.

“We can practice shopping in the real world,” said Fiona.

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