If you wouldn't throw away a dime, Colleen Hergott wonders why you'd throw away the pink Box Top label found on many food packages.
Colleen Hergott, Box Tops for Education coordinator at Stevens Creek Elementary, and her children, Eli, 2 (from left) Naomi, 12, Laura, 4, Kayla, 9, and Isaac, 6, are avid collectors.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I feel like this is a really easy program for the schools to participate in," said Hergott, the Box Tops for Education coordinator at Stevens Creek Elementary School in Martinez. "It's a dime. You wouldn't throw away a dime."
The Box Tops for Education program is one of several of its kind that rewards schools for collecting specified package pieces. The Campbell's Labels for Education program also works as a reimbursement program for those schools who send in collected soup can labels and UPC bar codes from other Campbell's owned brands. Other rewards programs for area schools include those offered by Target, Office Depot and Publix. Those stores allow a customer to select a specific school that will receive rewards based on money spent at their store. For instance, Target offers rewards for shoppers who use their Target Visa or Target Card.
The money earned from these rewards programs is used to purchase new playground equipment, replace library books and supply classrooms with needed equipment, among other things.
"That money, for us, goes toward the library and we spend that extra money for books, in addition to what the school system allocates," said Kristina Kafel, the Box Tops for Education coordinator at Blue Ridge Elementary School. "We will be able to get about another 110 books from last year's earnings."
Blue Ridge Elementary School surpassed its goal of $1,200 in the Box Tops program, garnering just more than $1,300 for the new books.
Letting parents know about these programs has become a mission for Hergott, a mother of five who has two children attending Stevens Creek.
"We just really encourage everybody to try and save," said Hergott, whose school raised $2,697.68 through the Box Tops program last year. "Our goal was to get kids to recognize it. We didn't want them to leave the fifth-grade without feeling really guilty about throwing them away."
The pink Box Tops labels are found on products ranging from Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Taco Bell, Ziploc and hundreds of others. Customers can sign up to have additional money allocated for a specified school when they shop online retailers by linking to them from the boxtops4education.com Web site.
"Each school can earn up to $20,000 a year for clipping the labels and an additional $20,000 for on-line shopping," Hergott said. "You know there are hundreds of people out there who see these pink things and know they mean something to somebody but don't know what to do with them."
In addition to the more than $15,000 earned from the Box Tops rewards program last year, the county's schools have earned nearly $40,000 from Target Corporation's Take Charge of Education program since its inception in 1997. Target donates a percentage of money spent using their Visa card.
Office Depot's 5 percent Back to Schools Program allows customers to specify a school to receive rewards based on qualifying student school supplies. Five percent of the qualifying purchase is credited to the school to use for free supplies.
According to Publix representative Brenda Reid, all of the county's public schools and many of the area's private schools participate in the Publix Partner program. Reid said the company has given more than $15 million during the past 11 years to participating schools in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.
"Money into the school just benefits everybody," Hergott said.
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