FARMINGTON — Even Governor Susana Martinez cheered Thursday for the local success of the Box Tops for Education program.
Martinez visited Farmington on Thursday to watch as Apache Elementary, Animas Elementary, Park Avenue Elementary, Kirtland Elementary, and the Bloomfield Early Childhood Development Center received $1,000 checks. 
Navajo Ministries also received $250, a smaller portion because of its substantially smaller student population. 
All of the funds came from the Box Tops for Education Program, which has heavily promoted itself in San Juan County for several months in hopes of raising additional funds for local students.
“You gotta get your next door neighbor or your grandma now — you gotta get them cutting those (coupons) out,” Martinez said. 
The Box Tops for Education program has existed since 1996 as a way for schools to earn money through consumers' purchase of more than 2,500 products put out by food brands under the General Mills Corporation. 
Each product is labeled with a coupon, which, if cut out and turned in to Box Tops for Education, will equate to 10 cents donated to whatever school that individual chooses.


“It needs to be a United States of America thing,” said Rylee Kiddoo, president of the Parents Teachers Association in Bloomfield. 
Kiddoo, who has collected Box Tops for more than 15 years, said she regularly sends in her coupons to raise money for her local schools. 
Now, nearly a dozen local organizations have come to the same realization as Kiddoo, hoping to aid local schools using Box Tops.
Both Walmarts in Farmington, as well as the one in Gallup, have set out Box Tops drop-off bins. Bins also can be found in many of the area schools.
“We're going to do this forever,” said Harry Burns, a Walmart representative who has led the coordinated community effort, which was expected to last just a year.
So far, the effort has been well-received, but Burns and his cohorts hope to reach out to further resources. 
Earning $1.27 per student in 2011, New Mexico was the second-lowest earning state in the Box Top for Education program, according to James Lesser, a regional General Mills representative. 
Local Box Tops organizers want to change that, as raising the amount earned per student by just $1 would earn the state $133,000 annually.
If every person in New Mexico earned just $5 for the program, the state would instead have more than $10.4 million. 
“Wow, that's a lot,” said Kiddoo, adding that each of the students has the ability to contribute. 
If everyone in San Juan County did the same, the county's schools would have $650,000 extra to spend. 
For more information on how you can help contribute box tops to your school, or to schools in the area, contact Burns at 505-419-8525.