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Businesses that offer school contributions

I've heard that there are businesses that make a contribution to your school if you do business with them. Do you know about these?

Many locally owned businesses participate in fundraisers for individual schools -- and large companies have gotten into the act too, realizing that customers want charity dollars to benefit local organizations. Here are a few examples: In its Take Charge of Education program, Target stores donate 1percent of purchases made using the Target Visa card, and one-half of 1 percent of purchases made elsewhere (also using the card) to the local school the customer designates. Since the program was launched in 1997, Target has given away more than $100 million nationwide. To be sure your child's school is on the list, go to target.com/target_ group/schools/search_school.jhtml

Office Depot offers a 5 percent Back to School program. You buy certain supplies, designate a school, and the school receives a credit for 5 percent of the total purchases, to use for supplies. This program only runs during certain periods of the year. Go to www.community.officedepot.com for more information and to find the code for your school. In March, Washington Mutual launched another great program called WaMoola for Schools® (www.wamoola forschools.com).

The program raises money for local schools through check card usage. Customers with Washington Mutual check cards simply sign up and select a school beneficiary. Then, every time they use their card, the school will accumulate points, to be converted to cash at the end of each year. Washington Mutual representatives say they expect the company's community and employee giving program to total more than $115 million in 2004, with about $24 million supporting education initiatives.

But, as we all know, money isn't everything. Your kids may be impressed when you show them that you're spending your money wisely, and in ways to benefit their school. But they may be even more impressed if you volunteer your time to help other children in need. The Seattle Public Schools provides a helpful list of organizations they partner with to help struggling children and also lists volunteer opportunities within the school system. Go to www.seattleschools.org/area/main/homepage-community.dxml for more information. ™ Audrey Van Buskirk is a Seattle freelance writer and mother.

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