|January 19, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 2 • Oakland, CA|
|Catholic Schools Week
Boxtops add up for schools
When parents return the Wednesday envelopes at St. Joseph School in Fremont, they are likely to have added a little something other than their signatures.
St. Joseph is among many of the schools, kindergarten through eighth grade, that participate in the national program that exchanges those boxtops for checks twice a year. More than 80,000 schools nationwide participate in the program.
It can add up to more than small change.
At St. Joseph, for example, office manager Cathy Marron has been expecting to receive a check for almost $600, which represents proceeds from boxtops received by the program from March 1 to Nov. 1.
In just a few weeks, the year's next installment will be due at the program's Midwest offices.
That means the heat will be turning up at St. Isidore School in Danville, another of the diocesan schools that has seen success in collecting and redeeming the boxtops.
The Danville school has turned boxtop collecting into something of a friendly competition — with a visible, exciting reward for the class that brings in the most boxtops.
St. Isidore School, too, was waiting for its check from the headquarters, which will exceed $600.
Counselor Michelle Devine thought the boxtops provided an opportunity to not leave the money out there. So she had two words to fuel the competition that has grown the program: ice cream.
The student body leadership team, about 25 students strong, decorated colorful boxes for each classroom. There's no mistaking where to drop those boxtops. There are announcements and reminders, and when the final tally is counted up, the winning class is treated to an ice cream social, which is served up in plain sight of all the students.
The proceeds go toward the school's scrip program, and some is donated to the parish Loaves and Fishes organization, which provides a monthly meal for people who need one. The school's eighth-graders help with that meal.
At St. Joseph, the funds go to replenish the playground equipment — balls and jump ropes, Marron said. Some boxtop efforts have paid for art supplies. Whatever's left over goes into the school's general fund.
While the diocesan schools are not in immediate danger of reaching the limit Boxtops for Education sets on the schools — $20,000 — they have found some ways to increase participation and returns.
Marron said a particularly good year followed a summer in which the parent coordinator sent a brown paper bag stamped with the boxtops logo home for each family. Many of those returned filled in the fall.
The school also requires each family to bring a ream of paper as part of the school supply list. Some paper manufacturers participate in the Boxtops program.
A representative of the Boxtops program said the schools that do very well, "work really hard," involving parents, children and grandparents in the collection efforts.
When those boxtops come in they are not always clean cut; parents can earn volunteer hours at St. Joseph School by spending an hour or two in the office trimming the boxtops.
The newsletter is a powerful tool, Marron said, with an announcement each week. "We remind parents," she said. If that boxtop goes in the trash, she said, "they're throwing away a dime."
The children, too, get into the spirit. It's not unusual for a student to drop by Devine's office at St. Isidore and ask her: "When's the next party?"
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