Apr 16, 2012 • By

A grandma cashes in

Principal Russ Waits has learned to think big, or at least bigger.

His school, Mitchell Elementary in Gadsden, Ala., just won $25,000 in the Totino’s “Learn a Ton When School is Fun” sweepstakes.

Sandra Morris, a grandma who volunteers as the school’s Box Tops for Education coordinator, entered Mitchell Elementary in the sweepstakes. When she recently learned the school was randomly selected from nearly one million entries, she rushed to tell Principal Waits in person.

“I sat across from him in the lunch room and asked, ‘Have you thought about what you might want to get with the [Box Tops] money?’ He said he looked and saw an extra piece of playground equipment … He said it’s going to be between $1,500 and $1,800. I said, ‘That’s good, but I think you’re going to need to go a little bit higher.’”

Morris says when she told the principal the school had won $25,000 in addition to earning $2,700 for collected Box Tops, his face went completely white.

“The principal, the teachers and I, we’re just so excited, you can just hardly stand it!” Morris says. “You just jump out of your skin, kind of.”

Once the shock subsided, Principal Waits asked the teachers what to use the money for.

After thinking it over, they created their list. Mitchell Elementary School is purchasing 20 new iPads, one for each classroom. It’s replacing 30 traditional desktop computers in the school’s computer lab and redistributing the current computers into classrooms. Finally, the school is adding a digital sign to the exterior of the building to improve its ability to communicate information to students and parents.

She talks about that wish list in this video interview.

Morris first started clipping Box Tops for her co-worker’s daughter—a teacher at another school. That got her thinking about collecting Box Tops for Mitchell Elementary, where her children attended and grandchildren attend. She became the school’s coordinator of the Box Tops for Education program at the beginning of this school year.

Morris also organizes monthly pizza parties for the class that brings in the most Box Tops.

“It’s a wonderful program and we appreciate it so, so much,” says Morris. “I just think everybody ought to get involved with their school. I’m sure there are schools that don’t do this. You know, winning the extra sweepstakes, that was just the icing on the cake.”

Editor’s note: General Mills’ Box Tops for Education program is an easy way to earn cash for a designated school. By purchasing brands that carry Box Tops coupons, turning the coupons in to the school, and the school submitting them to General Mills, the school receives a check equivalent to 10 cents for each Box Top redeemed. For additional information, visit BoxTops4Education.com.