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Clipping coupons for schools

Students can toss their soup labels, box tops and receipts into a collection bin at the Frazee-Vergas Elementary School. Pippi Mayfield/Tribune1 / 2
Last year Frazee-Vergas Schools collected $556 back from the Box Top program. The money is put into the activity fund that helps pay for field trips and other activities for students. Brian Basham/Tribune2 / 2

It only takes a second to clip and it can earn cash rewards for local schools.

Schools are getting more and more involved with programs like Box Tops, Campbell's Labels for Education and We Care receipts from Central Market.

Another large contributor to the Frazee-Vergas School District in particular is the town's grocery store, Frazee Family Foods, and its receipt program.

Frazee-Vergas Schools Dean of Students Troy Haugen said the school gets hundreds of thousands of points from Frazee Family Foods each year, which can be used toward purchasing items from a catalog the retailer supplies.

Last time a large purchase was made, the district bought a laminator for the school, an item, Haugen said, that would normally cost the district about $1,500-$2,000.

"It's 1 percent, excluding alcohol and tobacco, towards it," Frazee Family Foods owner Heath Peterson said. "People can either leave their receipts here (at the store) or turn them in at the school."

The points are collected on receipts from September through March. Then the district has some time to pick out of the catalog what it will be cashing in its rewards for and receive it before school's end.

Though it's not necessarily a monetary donation from the Petersons, it is 1 percent of sales that's coming out of the store's profits in the end. But, it's going to a good cause, too.

"Last year was just under $5,000, and the year before that it was $3,500," he said. "It adds up. And it's a ton of stuff the school would be able to afford otherwise. It's kind of nice to be able to help out that way."

There are other programs like Campbell's Soup Labels for Education, Loaves for Learning, milk tops, Our Family and Tyson Project A+.

"Our big one is Box Tops. We actually get money back for that one," Haugen said.

Last year the district got $556 back in cash from the Box Top program. That is money that the school then puts into the activity fund that helps pay for field trips and other fun activities for students.

"It's for extra things that aren't day to day," he said.

Another program the school receives funds from is run by Target. After the school initially submitted an application, there's "nothing we have to do for that." The district receives about $400 a year from Target.

Parents and students can cut the labels off boxes and cans and bring them into the schools. Haugen said there are a couple paraprofessionals at the elementary school that take care of sorting the labels and sending them to the companies when there are a substantial number.

Many different brands and products participate in the Box Tops program. There are a few hundred products where the labels can be found including 59 different cereals, 20 different office supplies, 28 baking supplies and more.

Schools participating in Box Tops for Education have earned over $475 million since 1996.

For the Campbell's program, there's more to saving than a can of soup. There are more than 2,500 participating products, and points are earned to purchase items for arts, athletics and academics.

Whether it's cash back or a point system to purchase specific items, the second it takes to clip a box top or save a receipt can save local school districts hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars and provide funding for activities that may otherwise not happen.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.