GIFT CARDS GOOD AS GOLD FOR GROCERY SHOPPERS, LA GRANDE PTO
Everybody is a winner in an arrangement between Safeway and local non-profit organizations, including perhaps, especially the La Grande Parent Teachers Organization and La Grande High School.
For the past couple of years, the PTO has been selling $50 and $75 Safeway gift cards, and keeping 5 percent of the proceeds.
The money is used to buy things for the high school that aren't budgeted and likely wouldn't be bought otherwise.
"We sell the cards to parents, school staff and anybody who will buy them. They're just as good as cash at Safeway," said PTO Treasurer Susie Harris.
Harris, whose twins K.C. and Katie Harris who are beginning their junior year, said the PTO had almost no money in the bank when it got involved with the program.
"We've made $18,000 so far. That's amazing," Harris said.
The PTO has purchased five new monitors for the high school's computer lab, and a complete computer system for the school's photo department.
"The computer in the photo department wasn't big and powerful enough to handle the digital photography software," Harris said.
The benefits of the card sales program didn't stop with the purchase of the monitors and computer, Harris said.
"We also use the money to pay for publication and mailing the PTO's newsletter," she noted.
Harris, who works in the school's computer lab, said the PTO quizzed teachers and administrators on what they thought the card money should be spent on.
"They suggested painting beams in the gym, but we decided that shouldn't be our responsibility.
"We wanted to do something for the kids. The computer lab is used all day long, and a lot of the equipment has been handed down."
Harris said the card sales program got a boost recently when the
La Grande branch of U.S. bank agreed to sell cards on behalf of the PTO.
"They have them displayed at every station," she said. She noted that proceeds from sales at U.S. Bank so far have amounted to about $180 a month.
If the program continues to do well and Harris says she has no reason to believe it won't the PTO plans to equip the computer lab with five complete new systems. The group also hopes to refurbish the lighting system in the school auditorium.
"The old one is just about defunct," she said.
Other non-profit groups benefiting from Safeway card sales include the Blue Mountain Humane Association, Think Link Discovery Museum, and Central School.
"It's awesome. It's the greatest thing in the world for any non-profit trying to raise funds," Harris said.