Box Tops worth cash for local schools


If you purchase General Mills products, you’ve probably seen the little rectangular sections of the labels decorated with a pencil and the words “Box Top$ for Education.” Well, that little rectangle is worth 10 cents to your local school, and if you wonder how much difference a 10-cent piece of cardboard can make, the answer, according to local schools, is a lot.

General Mills started the Box Tops for Education program in 1996 as a way to help schools teaching kindergarten through eighth grade raise money. Community members clip the box tops and submit them to schools, who then submit them to General Mills twice a year to receive the refunds. Local middle and elementary schools participate in the program, garnering about $2,000 to $3,000 per year.

“We are grateful when we get those labels,” said Anna Rolwing, co-president of Holy Trinity Catholic School’s PTA. “Even though they’re only worth 10 cents, it adds up, and we appreciate the additional funds it brings.”

At Holy Trinity, the PTA uses the funds for family fellowship events like the Trunk-or-Treat and the middle school dance in May.

Schools can choose how to use the money that comes in from the Box Tops program. At Jasper Middle School, the funds are used to purchase library books, allowing the school to have a larger collection. Right now, Librarian Kena Robling said, the library is working on upgrading the nonfiction section. Nonfiction books can be more than $20 a piece, so the funds from Box Tops are “very needed.”

“It takes a lot of box tops to get our nonfiction up to date,” Robling said.

At Dubois Elementary, the parent-teacher organization collects box tops and uses the funds for various projects around the school, including field trips and classroom items such as iPad cases. At the school, the Box Tops program means fewer charges are passed on to parents.

To collect box tops, most schools set up competitions between classrooms to encourage students to submit them. For most schools, that’s the most successful way to collect the little cardboard squares. A few years ago, Dubois Elementary collected 50,000 tops through the competitions, worth $5,000. That’s uncommon, said Amanda Johnson, Dubois Elementary’s Box Tops coordinator. Usually, the school gets $1,000 to $2,000 from the program.

Regardless of how much money is collected from the program, local school officials appreciate the help in the budget.

“We love them,” Robling said. “It’s very needed and very appreciated.”

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