by ROB GLIDDEN
A new school year in Southington brings another chance for local schools and their surrounding communities to take advantage of rewards programs at nearby supermarkets.
Four major supermarket chains (Stop and Shop, Target, Shop Rite and Price Chopper) all have branches in Southington and all have programs that help residents earn donations to a particular school. Local PTOs have been using these programs for years with increasing success.
The details vary for each of these programs (some simply give donated funds while others allow schools to accumulate points that can be exchanged for items that can enhance a classroom), but they all have large potential with enough community participation.
“I’m very pleased with how it has gone over the years,” said Cheryl Hilton Campbell, president of the PTO at Kelley Elementary School. “PTOs are usually more interested in passive fundraising like this. We don’t want to resort to sending kids out to pound the pavement.”
Resident Arthur Cyr, known in the community as a highly engaged citizen, heard about the programs within the last year and been working to spread awareness of them around Southington.
Referring to the initiatives as “the free money programs,” Cyr wants to reach people who aren’t as involved with the school as parents and communicate the benefits.
“We’ve got around 40,000 people in this town and I think a lot of us are missing the boat on this,” Cyr said. “I think if these programs got enough exposure, we can double the amount that comes in.”
Doubling the amount would produce huge donations for the school system, given that approximately $25,000 worth of cash and supplies was earned in the last school year.
“We really tried to make the most of it last year,” said Barbara Cofrancesco, who handles communications for the Thalberg Elementary School PTO, which earned the highest amount. “It can be a lot of work to solicit parents and help them get set up, but it was worth it. We made almost $2,500 and that was just from Stop and Shop.”
To use the programs, all a resident has to do is register their store card and enter a numerical code that coincides with the school they wish to support. These can even be used at store outlets outside Southington.
Once registered, purchases at these supermarkets will produce donations to the school at no extra cost to the shoppers.
All four of the programs can be accessed via the internet. Stop and Shop’s program is at www.stopandshop.com/aplus, Price Chopper is www2.pricechopper.com/toolsforschools/enrollment.shtml, Shop Rite is www.shopriteforeducation.com, and Target is https://www-secure.target.com/redcard/tcoe/home.
More information about the programs is expected to be added to the town’s website in the future.