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Supermarket shoppers raise $21K for Amherst Regional High School

The high school’s PTO Grant Committee was recently given the money, which will be used in the next academic year, through a partnership with the Stop & Shop supermarket in Hadley.

Arnie Alper, a parent volunteer with the PTO, said this has been a successful means of raising money to pay for visiting writers, poets, musicians and chefs, buying documentary films for a cooperative program between the school librarian and English and social studies teachers, and purchasing materials for improving school climate and reducing bullying.

“The purpose of the grant program is to support the work of the thoughtful teachers and staff,” Alper said.

This year, the PTO provided more than 40 grants between $200 and $1,000.

Stop & Shop partners with schools throughout the state and New England on its A+ School Rewards program. Some $30,590 will go to schools in the Amherst area.

“We think it’s a great program because no money comes directly out of anyone’s pocket,” Alper said.

Each September, PTO volunteers begin signing up shoppers at the Hadley store by asking them to direct the points they earn from their purchases to the high school, Alper said. The purchases qualified had to be made between Oct. 5 and March 28.

Many parents with students in the high school sign up, but so do others from the community, including many area college students, Alper said.

The PTO also does outreach through school newsletters and school-centered events such as open houses and concerts.

“Most people are very willing to do it. People are willing to support public schools at no cost to them,” Alper said.

Alper said the PTO first looked at the potential revenue from the rewards program because of how tight money was in the district.

“We saw it as an opportunity to raise money, especially at a time when they were talking budget cuts,” Alper said.

Each trimester, the PTO Grants Committee sends application forms to teachers and staff. These are completed and first go to high school Principal Mark Jackson, who ensures any requests are consistent with the educational mission of the school. Members of the PTO Grants Committee then make the awards.

In addition, this year the high school received 16 laptops donated for use at its discretion.

Overall, the supermarket chain’s program is contributing $778,000 to 1,238 schools in Massachusetts that can be used for anything from scholarships to sports equipment.

In a statement, Joe Kelley, president of the Stop & Shop New England Division, praised the community support.

“The program is an easy way for parents and customers to give back simply by shopping for groceries, and we’re proud to be a supporter of schools throughout the region,” Kelley said.

Alper said Hadley store manager Bob Jones has been supportive of the PTO.

Many other local schools are participating, though all received significantly smaller amounts than Amherst High.

Recipients also include the middle school, which raised $1,521; Wildwood Elementary, $1,637; Crocker Farm, $635; and Fort River, $441; as well as the private Common School, $62; Amherst Montessori School, $27; and Cushman Scott Children’s Center, $13.

In Hadley, the elementary school received $1,741 and Hopkins Academy $114, with the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School getting $717 and Hartsbrook School $52.

Sunderland Elementary received $928; Pelham Elementary, $383; Leverett Elementary, $360; Whately Elementary, $299; Shutesbury Elementary, $241; and Frontier Regional School, $276.

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