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Don’t throw away those receipts, box tops

Lenore Sechler, a longtime volunteer who clipped Box Tops for Education coupons for United Elementary, is encouraging community members to continue to look for the coupons, which are being phased into an online app. Sechler had clipped the coupons for nearly 20 years before the change to digital. (Submitted photo)

HANOVERTON – Be sure to check your grocery list for food products that participate in the Box Tops for Education program, a longtime United Elementary volunteer is advising.

Once the COVID-19 crisis made its way to the area, and it became more and more apparent that residents would be told not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, many people stocked up on non-perishable food items. And once Gov. Mike DeWine made the order official, many more people hit the grocery stores for items that will last a month or longer.

Many of those items will be products participating in the Box Tops for Education program, a cause that Lenore Sechler of Guilford Heights has helmed at United Elementary for nearly 20 years. Over the years, her efforts have raised thousands of dollars for a variety of expenditures- from activities to materials to renovations.

The program has gone digital, requiring just a scan of a receipt, but there are still some products with the coupons on the packaging. Either way, the program is still providing money for schools across the nation.

“I encourage everybody to continue with the program, learn how to do it on their phones, because over the years, I’m sure it has helped and I’ve been appreciated for doing it,” said Sechler, who just recently stopped clipping the coupons for the school.

Sechler has been volunteering at the school for approximately 20 years, the past 17 or 18 clipping the Box Tops coupons. She said she was looking for a way to volunteer at the school after her retirement and began by helping the fifth-grade teachers with students who needed a little extra help, but eventually took over the Box Tops program.

Stopping in once a week, Sechler would trim the coupons and put them in bags of 50, then put the bags of 50 into bags of 1,000. At the height of the program she was getting 23 or 24 bags of 1,000 each year. Due to the move to digital, the amount dwindled to just three this year before school closed.

“I really enjoyed what I did and the opportunity to help the school any way I could,” she said.

Elementary Principal Andy Trotter praised Sechler and encouraged everyone to continue her legacy through the Box Tops program.

“Lenore is one of those people who give generously, selflessly and without any expectation of something in return. She gave just to see the happiness it created,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine United Local and not have Lenore come to mind.

“Her giving heart plays no small role in what makes United a great place to be. She is an example of the giving spirit at United Local  and we’re so thankful for all she’s done over the years.”

Traditional Box Tops clips are being phased out of production, but may continue to be found on many products throughout the store. Customers can still clip and send them to school. Every valid Box Tops clip is worth 10 cents for the school. Make sure each one has a clearly visible product acronym and expiration date.

Eventually the Box Tops program will become digital-only. Participating brands are starting to change their packaging from a traditional Box Tops clip to the new Box Top label. For the new label, use the Box Tops app to scan the receipt. The app will find participating products purchased at any store and instantly add cash to the school’s earnings online.

For information about the program or to see a full list of participating products visit boxtops4education.com.

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