Free money

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Students helped to raise about $1,000 through the Box Tops for Education program last year. Some of this year’s top collectors are Andon Ernest, Bindiya Patel, Abby Lee, Jasmine Armstrong, Shylea Williams, Tucker Earles, Sidney Armstrong and Carson Tucker.

CHMS students collecting box top clippings for sports equipment

If you’re throwing away cartons of cereal, granola bars or empty tissue boxes, you could be throwing away money for area schools.

The Box Tops for Education program was launched in 1996 by General Mills and focused on helping schools in California earn money. Today, more than 80,000 schools nationwide participate in the program and America’s schools have earned more than $475 million since the program’s inception.

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“We started participating four years ago,” said Charles Henderson Middle School Coach Forest Lee. “It’s free money and it gives students a sense of purpose and a way to help their school.”

Small logos that read “Box Tops for Education” on many General Mills products can be collected by schools and redeemed for 10 cents per clipping. Last year CHMS received $1,000 from the program that helped purchase tennis balls, tennis racquets, volleyballs and other sporting goods for the school’s physical education program.

Sidney Armstrong, 12, said she’s collected the box top logos for two years and this year has already turned in about 90 clippings.

“It helps us get what we need,” Armstrong said. “It’s better money for the school and it’s easy.”

Bindiya Patel, also 12, said she thinks having the money go for physical education purposes is good for the students.

“We all have PE,” Patel said. “I want more choices and more equipment and this is a great way for us to contribute to getting what we want.”

Patel said she had brought in about $7 worth of box top clippings so far this year.

Lee said that students aren’t the only ones who have collected the box top logos. Sometimes he receives an envelope full of them, and sometimes, plastic bags full of box top clippings show up.

CHMS has collected about $340 worth of clippings this year and Lee is hopeful the community will contribute enough box top logos to surpass last year’s mark of $1,000.

“Send them in with your students,” Lee said. “No matter what school it is, it really makes a difference.”

According to Box Tops for Education, Pike Liberal Arts School, CHMS, Covenant Christian School, Troy Elementary School and New Life Christian Academy all participate in the program.