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Box Tops for Education Are Everywhere — but What Are They, Really?

Sarah grew up in Monterey, CA and now lives in Los Angeles. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying a good book, fine wine, sunflowers and long walks on the beach.

Annie's, Nature Valley & Pillsbury are just a few of the brands now offering Box Tops for Education

School's back in session, and that means it's time to help our children get ahead in any way possible —which is a lot easier said than done. But if you're looking for a way to raise money for your local school, it's all about Box Tops, baby. Yup, clipping Box Tops for Education is a super-easy way to benefit your kids' (as well as other local children's) education.

And it seems like Box Tops are more important now than ever. Every day we're hearing about how schools don't have enough money for books, computers or music classes — and don't even get us started on teacher salaries. It's easy to get discouraged, but putting your money back into the schools can actually be as easy as clipping and saving Box Tops.

Box Tops for Education was started by General Mills in California back in 1996, after the company decided they wanted to create a program to help support education and benefit America’s schools.

More: 8 Things I'll Do Once My Kids Are Back at School

The program was such a huge success that it soon expanded across the nation, and by 1998, more than 30,000 schools were clipping Box Tops and earning cash to buy the things they needed, like books, computers, playground equipment and more, according to the Box Tops for Education website. Today, America’s schools have earned over $719 million, and you can find Box Tops on a ton of products you buy every day at the grocery store.

So how exactly can you help?

Start clipping!

Annie's, Nature Valley & Pillsbury are just a few of the brands now offering Box Tops for Education
Image: Box Tops for Education/Facebook

You can start by clipping the Box Tops off approved products you already have in your pantry. You don't need to clip the actual product UPC — just the Box Tops logo will do. From frozen foods to produce and household cleaning products, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to help, and each Box Top is worth 10 cents. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up fast.

There are so many participating companies! Participating companies and product lines include General Mills, Green Giant, Totino's, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Ziploc, Hefty, Juicy Juice, Betty Crocker and many more.

Here are some actual products to keep an eye out for:

  • Annie’s Organic Popcorn
  • Nature Valley XL Sweet & Salty Bars
  • Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal
  • Ziploc Freezer Bags
  • Totino's Pizza Rolls Snacks
  • Lysol Bathroom Cleaners
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Kleenex Tissue Bundles
  • Green Giant Fresh Vegetables
  • Land O'Lakes Butter Products
  • Boise POLARIS Premium Color Copy Paper
  • Chex Mix
  • Hefty Deluxe Plates and Platters
  • Hefty Cinch Sak Large Trash Bags and Lawn & Leaf Bags

Get the full list of participating products here.

Collecting those Box Tops

Annie's, Nature Valley & Pillsbury are just a few of the brands now offering Box Tops for Education
Image: boxtopsforeducation.com

Once you've got a good amount of Box Tops, you can download a collection sheet, stick the Tops on the sheet, and send them to school with your child. Most collection sheets hold 10 to 25 Tops, and volunteer coordinators appreciate that you send your Tops to school in bundles of 50.

Download a collection sheet here.

Once you send the collection sheet to school, they will be rounded up by a volunteer coordinator who runs your local Box Top program.

If you're interest in becoming a coordinator, you can learn more about it here.

More: How to Help Your Kids Seamlessly Transition Back to School After Summer Break

Get everyone involved

You don't have to limit the giving to your household. You can make a Box Tops for Education collection box and leave it at your work, church or community center. Make a small sign letting people know where to find Box Tops for Education and what they provide. Schools also have Box Top collection contests, so you can ask local businesses if they'd be willing to donate gift cards as prizes. If you get your whole community involved, you'll be making money for your school in no time.

Follow Box Tops for Education on Facebook for more useful tips about the program!

Annie's, Nature Valley & Pillsbury are just a few of the brands now offering Box Tops for Education
Image: Box Tops for Education/Facebook

Originally published September 2011. Updated September 2017.

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