Big Y Helps Local Schools

More than 2,000 schools in communities surrounding Big Y stores have received nearly $2 million in free teaching materials and educational equipment from the New England regional grocer’s latest “Education Express” program. The company fulfilled almost 4,500 orders during the longtime initiative’s most recent cycle, which ran from Oct. 2, 2008, through June 30, 2010. Among the much-needed items area schools got: 2,724 books, 698 calculators, 354 digital cameras, 795 musical instruments, 372 safety goggles, 2,530 reams of copier paper and 1,448 assignment books.

Since it began in 1993, Education Express has awarded more than $13 million in free supplies and equipment to local schools.

“At Big Y, we’ve made a commitment to education and the future of our children.” noted Donald D’Amour, the grocer’s chairman and CEO. “During this last cycle of the program, more than [in] years past, our schools have faced extreme budget cuts due to these tough economic times. Education Express has allowed many of them to get the necessary supplies, keep up with technology and offer student programs they might have otherwise discontinued.”

The program enables customers to buy money-saving products featured with the Big Y Express Savings Club electronic discount card to earn merchandise points for their preferred schools, who could then redeem the points for free equipment and supplies. Education Express is free to Big Y customers, and because it’s completely electronic, requires no saving, collecting or counting of cash-register receipts.

According to Big Y, about 60 percent of Express Savings Club members enrolled to earn points for local schools. Shelf signs featuring a school-bus logo indicated Education Express items throughout the store, and customers could track their donated point totals by checking their printed grocery receipts.

Other education-related programs at Big Y are the “Homework Helpline,” available by phone or online, which helps K-12 students on a one-on-one basis with their school assignments, and the “Big Y Scholarship Program,” which annually awards 300 scholarships worth $250,000 to academically outstanding students in the grocer’s market area.

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, operates 61 stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts with over 10,000 employees.

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