Box Tops program aids schools a dime at a time

If only funding the whole K-12 system were this easy.

Box Tops for Education, a national program that donates money to schools when students, parents and friends buy and clip off tops of participating companies' products or shop online, has put more than $300 million in classrooms since its inception in 1996.

This fall, the youngsters and their scissors are at it again.

Monies earned from Box Tops for Education often are raised through school advocacy groups such as parent-teacher associations or organizations. Dot Gosset, Greywolf's Parent-Teacher Association president, reports that Box Tops funds go into her groups' general fund (this year's Greywolf PTA budget is more than $59,000).

These funds help sponsor field days, buy library books and art supplies, host the annual Cougar-Wolf Writing Conference, science projects, after-school clubs and more.

Dropping a dime

Each box top is worth 10 cents, unless it's a "bonus" box top, which is worth more.

"You don't have to buy anything special; you just need to look at your products before you throw away that cereal box or toilet paper package to see if there is a box top on there," says Betty Bates, Box Tops program coordinator at Greywolf Elementary School.

"Collect them and either take them to your school or mail it to them."

Best of all, Bates says, anyone can collect and donate, not just students, teachers and parents.

"With the way the school budgets are these days, every penny counts," Bates says.

Diana Young is the Box Tops program coordinator at Helen Haller Elementary.

"We distribute that for programs that aren't otherwise funded," Young says, such as funding programs with art teacher Carrie Rodlend and buying classroom books and supplies for teachers.

"The funds also pay for assemblies. This school year, Haller's PTO funded the Museum of Flight and last year's Pacific Science Center's Science On Wheels assembly.

Run for the record

Young said twin second-graders at Helen Haller are making a record run with their box tops collection. Braydon and Dalton Metzger have tallied nearly 950 box tops this fall.

Last year, Haller set a record with $1,100 in box tops and got another $300-plus later in the year.

"It really adds up quickly when you have more than 600 kids collecting," Young says.

Jared Bates (243 box tops) and Hunter Pomeroy (226 tops) are Greywolf's leaders this fall.

Bates says her Greywolf's goal is to collect $1,271 (last year, Greywolf earned $1,059) and that the school's students are already halfway there.

And that, the Box Tops program's Web site explains, is far from the maximum a school can earn. Schools can earn up to $20,000 for their clippings and up to $60,000 for online purchases (see breakout box for what qualifies).

"But," Bates notes, "the wintertime is usually a slow collection time with all the holidays."

Anyone can help

And that's where folks who aren't necessarily connected with schools can help. The Box Tops program isn't exclusive to the schools crowd. Individuals and groups in the community can support the program by dropping off box tops at individual schools or several drop-off points around town (see breakout box for locations).

Participating products include: cereals; prepared meals; snacks; dairy items; certain baby and child care products, storage bags and containers, waste bags, school and office supplies, disposable tableware and baking items.

See Web site www. for a full list.

The Box Tops program has two deadlines each year: One has passed (Oct. 31) while the second deadline is Feb. 28. Any box tops collected after the second deadline are credited toward the next school year.

For more information, contact individual schools: Helen Haller Elementary at 582-3200, Greywolf Elementary 582-3300 or Sequim Middle School at 582-3500.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

How to help

_ Clip box tops and send them to your school of choice; or,

_ Drop off tops at several locations in Sequim, including: Safeway (680 W. Washington St.), Costco (955 W. Washington St.), Walmart (1110 W. Washington St.) and elementary schools: Helen Haller Elementary (350 W. Fir St.); Greywolf Elementary (171 Carlsborg Road); and Sequim Middle School (301 W. Hendrickson Road)

_ Sign up to support your school on the Web site

_ Shop online: Schools may earn up to 15 percent of qualifying purchases by shopping at more than 100 online stores at the Box Tops for Education marketplace

_ Buy books: Schools may earn up to 6 percent of purchases made online at Barnes & Noble through the Box Tops Reading Room

_ Help a classroom by purchasing needed items through My Class Essentials registry (registry must be set up by teacher)

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