A reader passed me a link to this story.
A Catholic school in Waukesha County is the first non-profit group in the nation to cancel a coveted American Girl Fashion Show amid concerns that the Wisconsin-based doll company behind the show gives money to a national girls organization that presents abortion, contraception and a lesbian sexual orientation as acceptable.
News of the decision by parent volunteers and the pastor at St. Luke School in Brookfield is being reported in bulletins at Masses this weekend.
"It seemed like a match made in heaven; a motivated Catholic school and an all-American icon," Father Frank Malloy, the pastor, says in his printed explanation. "We seemed poised to raise enough funds for a new playground and a remake of the school library."
But, he concludes, "As for us, it’s a bargain we’ll just have to pass up. The cost is too high. Our integrity isn’t for sale."
Only 60 to 65 American Girl Fashion Shows are held nationwide each year, and no other groups have canceled because of this issue, according to Julie Parks, spokeswoman of the Middleton-based company.
The fashion shows include the firm’s popular historic dolls being carried by girls who resemble the dolls and dress in the same outfits.
The parish had scheduled five showings May 19 to 21 at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha.
Organizers had planned to mail invitations to more than 20,000 American Girl doll owners in a wide region. They had hoped to raise at least $10,000 – and perhaps $30,000 or more – through ticket and raffle sales, business sponsorships, and a percentage of sales of American Girl’s dolls, books, clothes and other products, said the event’s co-chairwomen, Marisa Beffel of Brookfield and Catherine Valentyn of the town of Brookfield.
Beffel, who had originally proposed the fashion show, searched the Internet for details last weekend after word of the company’s donations spread. Valentyn, who did the same, said it was a clear, but not easy, decision.
"It wasn’t just the money," said Valentyn, president of the home and school association. "It was hard to give up the thought of a really great day for mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and the really great products that American Girl has, these dolls with the historic texts that come with them. But it just felt wrong. We know what the Catholic Church stands for, and we, in essence, represent them."
The parish decision to forgo that and to put a $1,000 deposit with American Girl at risk is one of the latest results of a protest that two national groups – the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. – mounted this month against American Girl and its parent company, Mattel Inc. The league is threatening to call for a boycott of American Girl products if it does not halt the donations by Tuesday.
The spark that set them off was an "I Can" program the doll and clothing company launched Sept. 19 to encourage girls to follow their dreams and to raise money for Girls Inc.
You just have to like "Our integrity isn’t for sale."