Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Certificates raise funds for schools

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        SPRINGBORO — Loretta Sebastian is hoping parents will shop Springboro.

        If enough do, the Parent Teacher Organizations in the Springboro schools stand to gain thousands of dollars each year without selling a single candy bar or magazine subscription.

        It's all part of the Panther Paw Purchase Plan, a program in which parents and community members buy gift certificates to grocery stores and other businesses.

        The certificates can be used the same as cash and can be purchased using personal check, Visa or MasterCard for face value.

        The non-profit plan gets a 5 percent discount from vendors. Certificates can be purchased on a regular basis or occasionally.

        “We're very excited. We think it will take off here,” Mrs. Sebastian said.

        “We're starting in summer and just with parents so we can work out the kinks. We'll have a big push in September and we hope the whole community will support us and buy certificates.”

        In its first offering this month, Springboro parents bought certificates totaling $12,000, said Mrs. Sebastian, who has three children in the district.

        The program is modeled after one at Miamisburg's Bishop Leibold School, from which Springboro's non-profit plan purchased the program. After its first year of operation, Bishop Leibold's group had a $25,000 profit. For the school year that just ended, the school's fifth year of operating the program, the profit had increased to $42,000, Ms. Sebastian said.

        Periodically, profits from the program will be sent to each school's PTO, based on the grade levels in the building.

        For example, Springboro High School would get four-thirteenths of profits when the first distributions are made because the high school has four of the 13 grades. Each PTO would decide how the money would be spent at their school.

        “It's a unique fund-raiser. Instead of competing for funding they're (all schools' PTOs) working together,” said Ed Perkins, interim superintendent.

        “The businesses also don't have to respond to multiple requests this way.”

        Certificates are available for seven merchants but will be expanded to more as volunteers make contacts, Mrs. Sebastian said.

        One such merchant is Greg Jardine, owner of Greg's Prime Meats. Mr. Jardine is also involved in Bishop Leibold's program.

        “I like the idea you get a local merchant for local programs. You've got to take care of your own,” said Mr. Jardine.

        “The community has done a good job in supporting us and I think we should support the schools. I absolutely detest these little kids selling junk. This is much better.”


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