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Little Mill Middle parapro aims to make a difference, one Box Top at a time
FCN Paula Merritt Box Tops 092118
Paula Merritt, a paraprofessional, is the Box Tops for Education coordinator at Little Mill Middle School. - photo by Harley McCullar

Paula Merritt is known as the “Box Top Queen” at Little Mill Middle School.

Merritt, a paraprofessional, is the school’s coordinator for the Box Tops for Education program that rewards schools for collecting those small, rectangular sections on specially-marked boxes of General Mills and Ziploc items.

Merritt’s mission is to spread Box Top awareness everywhere she goes. Merritt has made 22-foot signs to hang around the school promoting the program. She’s even dressed up as a Box Top for Halloween.

Her mission was been especially notable this week – National Box Tops for Education week, when coordinators work to rally their communities to participate in the program.

“Schools continue to need help with even the most basic of supplies – and funds raised with Box Tops can make a significant dent,” said Erin Andrews, who oversees the Box Tops for Education program at General Mills, in a press release.

Forsyth County’s 10 middle schools and 21 elementary schools are eligible to earn money simply by submitting unexpired Box Tops. In addition to the 10-cent value of each Box Top, participating schools have the chance to win up to $23,000 just for promoting their students and programs.

Merritt says that “clipping one Box Top at a time” is how she gives back to her community.

Merritt’s goal is to raise Box Tops awareness throughout Forsyth Schools to help students begin clipping, collecting, and cashing the semi-annual checks that come rolling into participating schools. Merritt said that students gain direct benefits and financial support from all Box Top funds. She also awards the three students who collect the most Box Tops with prizes such as gift cards and class prizes.

Merritt believes Box Tops are an essential way to fund extracurricular programs in schools. Since 1996, schools in the U.S. have earned more than $868 million, according to the program’s website.

Box Tops can be found on boxes of perishable goods such as cereals and snacks, as well as cleaning supplies. Organic products and frozen food, alongside dairy, are all potential Box Top items. Companies like Kleenex, Scott, Fiber One, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Nature Valley, Chex Mix, and Old El Paso currently participate in the program.

And while the program grew up in the analog era, it’s evolved for more digital times. There’s a Bonus app, online-only sweepstakes, receipt scanning and e-box tops.

“Anyone can clip,” Merritt said.