The Mineral County Senior Center in Hawthorne made an unspecified donation of Box Tops for Education vouchers to Hawthorne Elementary School.

Michael James, Bernie Presnell and Anne Kee show off the Box Tops for Education coupons collected by the Mineral County Senior Center. The center has been collecting the box tops since August, and donated an unspecified number of them to Hawthorne Elementary School on Oct. 10. (C.W. Wilkinson photo)

The Mineral County Senior Center in Hawthorne made an unspecified donation of Box Tops for Education vouchers to Hawthorne Elementary School.

The vouchers were collected from seniors by the senior center, commonly known as the Care and Share.

“This is something that we can continually do throughout the year,” said Michael James, director of the Hawthorne Care and Share. “It costs nothing for the seniors to bring these things down, and it benefits the school.”

The money will go into a fund that goes back to the teachers to help pay for classroom supplies.

The box tops were donated in a brief ceremony on Oct. 10. The ceremony represented a high point in a months-long drive to collect box tops for the school, organized by Bernie Presnell a representative of the Kids At Risk Rescue Squad.

“The interest can be taken a little more seriously of looking at a box when you have it, or looking at brand, or looking at your paper towels or your dog food, or when you go to buy a plastic bag,” Presnell said. “The box tops are on a whole lot of different, different commodities.”

Box Tops coupons are small pink labels found thousands of products, including cereal boxes; disposable plastic containers; and toilet paper. The coupons are typically on or near the top of the product, and each is worth 10 cents for each school its donated to.

“A lot of people don’t even notice that on the top of General Mills and other products there’s something called Box Tops for Education,” James said. “All you’ve got to do is cut it out, and bring the label down here [to the Care and Share], or to the school district directly. […] Over time it does add up.”

KARRS has been collecting box tops for about five years, Presnell said, but this was the first time box tops were collected at the Care and Share.

James and Presnell presented the box tops to Anne Kee, who works for the Mineral County School District.

Presnell said she hopes inviting Kee to the Care and Share will help build a bridge between the school and seniors.

“We have retired people, they all weren’t working for pennies,” she said. “They all have education. Some of them have talents [that are] just unbelievable.”

Presnell went on to say it’s crucial to build a link between seniors and schools because small towns like Hawthorne, which she called a “fractured” community because of the wide range in the ages of the people who lie in there, are always the last to receive outside aid, and need to draw on every resource available to them.

“To bring the community together, the business needs to interact with the different coalitions, or the Chamber [of Commerce]” she said. “The retired people, they can go to a meeting — any kind of meeting — and have an input.”

Presnell made sure the box tops were handed over in public in hopes of getting more people to volunteer with various organizations in the community, calling each volunteer an “interest.”

“If you can get one interest to leave the house, then that will help pull another interest, and another interest,” she said.

Box Tops for education is a program started in 1996 by General Mills, a company best known for producing breakfast cereal, but which is also the parent company for a plethora of other brands, ranging from Pillsbury to Green Giant. General Mills’ website claims to be the largest food company in the world.