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Money Maker Series Part 2

Gold Digging: School’s Cash-for-Gold Event Raises Eyebrows


The economic recession has led to an explosion of cash-for-gold operations. When a Georgia elementary school invited one of these companies to host a fundraising event, however, people began to protest.

In 2010 officials at R.L. Norton Elementary School in Gwinnett County, GA thought it would be a good idea to raise money by hosting a three-day cash for gold event at the school. They were in the middle of a trial period for some tech equipment and were seeking additional funds to purchase it.

Cash for gold operations literally trade "unwanted" gold and other precious metals for cash.

For the uninitiated, cash-for-gold companies encourage people in need of quick money to send in their “unwanted” gold and other precious metals and stones. These companies then pay pennies on the dollar for the valuables. The process has been likened to a mail-order pawn shop.

The school hosted the event on campus during school hours. Flyers promoting the event encouraged staff and parents to participate between 7:30 a.m. and noon over the three-day period.

Parents began complaining shortly after the flyers were sent home advertising the event. Among the concerns were the throngs of strange adults milling about the school, and the ethical message that was being sent to the elementary students. Others questioned the wisdom of using a process that preys on people’s desperation to help a school.

One parent went as far as alerting the local media. When questioned by reporters from WSBTV News, school spokesperson Jorge Quintana was quoted as saying, “The company that the school has partnered with is set up in the front lobby where the fundraising is taking place during the day, as this is when parents formally visit the school. Any visitor to the school, including parents, would follow the check-in procedure for visitors.”

Apart from the security and ethical questions the event raised, the effectiveness of the plan was also questioned. Event participants were in no way obligated to give to the school the cash they received for gold.

R. L. Norton Elementary was not the first school to organize such an event. WSBTV reported that school officials selected this particular cash-for-gold company because it had a good reputation for working with other schools.

Related Resources

Other articles in the Money Maker series:

Part 1 - A Madison Ave. Education: Schools use ads to raise money

Part 3 - Taking a Gamble: Schools rake in casino profits

Part 4 - Cheating for Dollars: Schools fix grades to get more funding

Part 5 – Filling Seats: Bribing kids to come to school

Part 6 - 'Sheepish' About Cutting Costs: Schools trim landscaping bills with 'live lawnmowers'


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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