Box Tops for Education is a program where you can earn money for the school of your choice by clipping the tops off of specially marked food packages and household consumer products. Each box top redeemed is worth 10 cents for the school. Any school offering kindergarten to eighth grade classes can enroll in the program free of charge. The beauty of the Box Tops for Education program is the collective impact that the community can make when each individual takes the time to participate in the program.

Visit the Box Tops for Education (BTFE) website at www.boxtops4education.com. To ensure that the school has not previously been enrolled, enter the zip code of the school. If the school is already enrolled, contact the school and request the name of the program's coordinator to offer your assistance. The coordinator is the person in charge of submitting the box tops and rallying support for the program in the school.

Contact the school administrator if the school is not enrolled. Any school offering kindergarten to eighth grade classes, whether public or private, can enroll in the BTFE program and receive up to $20,000 per school year from the box tops collected. Inform the administrator about the program and if you are interested in being the BTFE coordinator. Per BTFE guidelines, the administrator must be the one to enroll the school by calling 1-888-799-2444 (the BTFE phone number). The administrator will be asked a few questions about the school and then be given an enrollment number.

Wait three to five business days. During that time, BTFE will verify that your school meets the minimum criteria for enrollment, which includes accreditation and a minimum of 15 students. Watch the website. Your school should be listed on the BTFE website after the initial waiting period. If it is not listed after 10 days, you can call 1-888-799-2444 to inquire about the delay. Once your school is listed on the website, you are officially enrolled in the program. Pick a coordinator and have her register online at the BTFE website. She will receive a packet of information about the BTFE program every August at the beginning of the new school year. The enrollment number given to your school administrator is your school ID number and will be used to identify your school when submitting box tops.

Assist in the collection of box tops for your school as the coordinator or as a supporter of the coordinator. Make announcements to the students about the program and provide opportunities for competitions relating to collecting box tops. Contests in which students can earn a "Crazy Clothes Day" or a pizza party are huge motivators for kids and can result in thousands of dollars being collected for your school.

Tip

Be excited about this program. If you are excited, the students will be excited and the enthusiasm will likely spread to the parents as well.

You probably wouldn't throw dimes into the garbage just because it was a hassle to store them. So, why would you throw box tops into the trash that are worth a dime each to your school? Box Tops for Education provides the opportunity to turn waste into tools that will assist your community. When children are given an opportunity to succeed, we all benefit.

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About the Author

Michael Elkins is the administrator for an adult group home in Stockton, Calif. He was been writing stories, journals, essays and articles since 1998. He is the recipient of the Sylvia Lopez-Medina award for short fiction and has also published his work in the literary magazine "Penumbra."