Education, Food / Groceries, Personal Finance, Shopping

Box Tops For Education: Why You Should Participate (even if you don’t have kids)

If you spend more than a token amount of time either grocery shopping or cooking, you have probably noticed the Box Tops for Education and Campbell’s Labels for Education labels on certain grocery products. Box Tops for Education is a program sponsored by General Mills and it has returned over $300 million dollars to schools throughout America since its inception in 1996. The Labels for Education program is a similar program launched thirty-seven years ago by the Campbell’s Soup Company.

If you have children, or have had children in the past decade especially, your school has probably asked you to participate in one or both of these programs. The concept is simple. The food company that sponsors the program includes special labels on its products. Consumers clip the labels, send them into school with their kids, and the school sends the labels back to the sponsor. In turn, the sponsor sends money back to the school for each label received. It requires almost no effort on the part of the consumer and the schools enjoy an easy way to raise funds.

But what if you do not have any children or your children have grown? Your channel to your local school is not as convenient as the backpack express. Do you then throw away all of the labels? Many schools try to make it easy for consumers by positioning donation boxes in local grocery stores, but that still requires a consumer to remember to bring the labels to the grocery store. Without kids at home, taking advantage of the General Mills program or the Campbell’s program requires effort.

That effort, however, is minimal and the rewards of participation are great. There really is no good reason for anyone to ever throw away a label that could be turned into cash for a local school, whether or not the donor will ever have a child at the school.

We all benefit from having good schools in our communities and good schools require funding. That funding usually comes from our tax dollars. In theory, if every consumer donated $20 worth of labels to their local school, it should reduce our local tax burdens by an equal amount. At the very least, it should result in a better education for local children who will then go on to better jobs and greater contributions to our communities. With stronger schools, our property values will improve. With greater donations, teachers who already have to dig into their own pockets for school supplies will be able to save more of their woefully inadequate earnings.

There simply is no reason for any of us to throw those labels into the garbage with our empty boxes of cereal and soup and so many other consumer products. Yet that is what happens all too often. There are about 300 million Americans. If each of us were responsible for $5 in donations from labels each year, our donations would amount to $1.5 billion in annual donations to schools, or about five times the total donated by Box Tops for Education in the past 14 years. Sadly, that is not happening.

I think we can do better.

Do you participate in programs that send money to your local schools? Do you have children in those schools? Do you continue to participate even when your children are out of the house? If you do not participate, why not?

9 thoughts on “Box Tops For Education: Why You Should Participate (even if you don’t have kids)

  1. I’m a high school teacher and I collect the box tops for the elementary schools in my district. I simply send them to the PTA and they are happy to receive them.

  2. Everyone benefits from having good schools in their community. Property values increase and kids having after school activities keeps them out of trouble.

  3. We are another family who never buys the qualifying products. If we did, you can be sure we’d save the lables.

  4. I donate them and I raid the cabinets of close family members with permission, of course. They roll their eyes but I get about $3 worth per family member and I know alot go to the trash. My dad loves Cheerios for breakfast. Lots of Cheerios in a year.

  5. I do not have children and I participate in “Box Tops” I live within walking distance of our local elementary school which serves the lesser advantaged children in our neighborhood. (Sadly, our two neighborhood elementary schools are “The Haves” and “The Have Nots.” These children are our tomorrow,and they deserve all of the support the neighborhood can give them.
    One of reasons I shop at our local Publix is because they donate a percentage of proceeds to our areas schools. Thank you, Publix!

  6. I save the labels and give them to a co-worker who has a child in elementary school. Some churches collect them also, and give them to the local schools.

  7. I wonder if it’s possible to write these off on our annual taxes?

    This may seem like a bit of a selfish question but ultimately most people are concerned with enriching their own lives in ways that impact them more directly than the roundabout increase in property values resulting from better schools in their districts.

    I guess my point is – if BTFE’s were tax deductible then it would almost certainly result in increased participation in the program.

  8. I am the Box Tops Coordinator for our small public elementary school. The funds go into the Parent Faculty Association budget, and are used for many wonderful programs which enhance the children’s educational experience, such as field trips to a science center. If anyone would care to send Box Tops through the mail to me, please do so. They will be very much appreciated!!!

    Peter Schultz
    178 South Lake Drive
    Red Bank, NJ 07701

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