Apples For Education helps local schools

By Michele Longworth

As this school year winds down and comes to an end, the Apples For Education program has also ended for the year. But, thanks to those shoppers who put their receipts into the boxes for the various schools, those schools have been able to receive several items.

Chances are if shoppers have been to Big John Metropolis, they have seen boxes on a table in the foyer for each of the county’s elementary schools. They may be decorated boxes to most people, but for each school, they represent a chance to receive some much-needed items for the school through the Apples For Education program, which runs from September through February.

All a customer has to do is drop in their receipt into the box of their choice in order to help the school receive points. Every dollar spent equals 1000 points.

Customers who keep receipts can request a duplicate receipt be printed. Either receipt can be put into the box.

At Metropolis Elementary School (MES) a staff member counts the receipts and bundles them and a teacher manages the points. “It’s a really great program,” said MES Principal Sarah Wessel.  MES received a total of 164,000 points this year.

Franklin Elementary School (FES) parent-teacher organization volunteer Jennifer Larrison said this year Franklin received between 175,000 and 200,000 points, which allowed them to receive seven Chromebooks, a karaoke machine along with some sidewalk chalk.

Larrison said in the past Franklin received a Kodak digital camera, white boards and dry erase markers, just to name a few items. All of the equipment is free, except for the around $30 in postage it takes to mail the bundles of receipts.

According to Larrison, they take receipts that add up to $1000 and bundle them. Every $1 equals 1000 points. Once they’ve accumulated several bundles they mail them in.

This school year Unity Elementary received around 78,000 points; Jefferson received 85,000 points; Brookport Elementary received around 34,000 points and Maple Grove Elementary School received 179,200 points.

Unity/Brookport Principal Brooke Durham said last year both school were able to receive recess equipment and this year Unity was able to purchase a television and Brookport received recess equipment.

“We started the program I am guessing six years ago, and for the first two years Maple Grove was the only school that participated,” said Big John Owner Mike Pool.

Donna Rushing, secretary at Maple Grove Elementary said the program has really helped the school. In the past the school has been able to receive a microwave for the teachers lounge as well as science and P.E. equipment. Rushing said this year the school was able to receive art caddies, pencil sharpeners, paint, glue sticks as well as card stock.

According to Pool, his wife, Leslie Pool, took the program over in-house a few years ago and was also really involved at FES, so she got them to participate.

Big John pays a fee to participate in the Apples For Education program with Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), based in Kansas City, Kansas, which is partners with a third party on the Apples For Education. Big John’s division is in Nashville, Tennesee. “We do not charge the schools to put the boxes out,” said Pool.

“I think the last two years - or maybe three - all the elementary schools in the district have participated. Last summer we were informed by AWG that our participation was the best company-wide, that covers 3500 stores in 35 states. Not every AWG store participates in the program.”

“We are always looking for ways to help out the schools and I thought this program would be a perfect fit. It gets everyone involved - not only the student’s household but aunts, uncles and grandparents can help also. For us it builds customer loyalty and it’s fairly straightforward process. The hardest part is adding up the receipts, but I think in most of the schools the parent teacher organization hels with that.

According to Pool, the schools get one penny for every dollar that is on the receipts and when all the receipts are totaled, Metropolis Big John will be charged 1 percent, which is the store’s fee. “That is the amount the schools receive to purchase their products,” said Pool.