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Those pennies add up

If you have ever been to JCPenny in Detroit Lakes, you may have heard this at the cash register:

"Would you like to round your purchase up to the nearest dollar?"

It's called the Afterschool Round-Up Campaign, and it is gearing up to go another round starting April 13.

JCPenney conducts the roundup four times a year, with money raised in the Detroit Lakes store going to the Boys and Girls Club in town.

"We're very blessed by a very giving community," said Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Pat Petermann.

Sixty-four percent of area shoppers said "yes" to rounding up during the last campaign in December.

That puts the Detroit Lakes JCPenny at the top of the giving list in a 15-store district wide area.

"I think that's because people here know the money stays local," said Petermann. "And I think people want to support the club because parents know their kids are somewhere safe and positive, and they don't have to worry about them. I think the reputation for the club enhances the (roundup) program."

Petermann says he believes another reason the DL location does so well is because the store associates always go out of their way to ask each person to round up.

"Every time I've been in there during a roundup, they've asked me if I'd be willing to round up, and that increases that odds of people giving," said Petermann.

"Our associates get so excited about this," said Detroit Lakes' JCPenny Store Manager Pat Readel. "It can be anything from a penny to 99 cents. People think it's not much, but when you see customer after customer come in all day long, it adds up to a pretty significant number."

$650 to be exact. That is how much customers rounded up during the last campaign in December.

Petermann says he was recently asked to speak to the other 175 Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the nation in a conference call, to tell them how and why the round up program here is so successful.

"And I told them it's about the partnership and relationship formed with the people from the store," Petermann said, adding, "And then when you bring the kids from the club in, set them up with a table full of information and let them help the customers, I think it makes a big difference."

The money raised will be used to make a big difference in the lives of the 120 to 130 students who use the Boys and Girls Club after school.

Petermann says they will use the funds for computers, the food program, summer camp materials, and various other education items for the students.

In addition to the round up, JCPenny stores also share proceeds from certain products with the after-school programs.

"We have selected toys, music kits, science kits, and things like that that we'll sell throughout the year that constantly raise money," said Readel.

The roundup begins today and runs through April 26.