Local schools earn money from gift cards

Published 7:13pm Friday, November 29, 2013

Your holiday shopping could pay for a local child’s school tuition.

A fundraising program called Scrip offers a percentage of gift-card purchases to nonprofit organizations, and some local schools have signed up for it.

A school orders the gift cards through Scrip and sells them at face value. Scrip gives the school a percentage of the sale based on the specific store offering the card. The gift cards are also available online.

“Say you go to Walmart and you spend $100,” explained Kim Smith, assistant to the school administrator at Unity Christian Academy. “Instead of giving them cash, we order you a $100 gift card. You get the full amount, dollar for dollar, and we get a few dollars that we credit to a child or family enrolled here.”

This is the first year UCA has participated in the Scrip program. Smith said it has been a popular fundraiser because it is easy and it is money people were already going to spend.

One UCA teacher earned $80 within the first three weeks of the program.

Dawn Lewis organizes the program for UCA.

“You can pick wherever you want it to go,” she said. “And it’s confidential.”

People donate the funds to school scholarships or pick specific students they want to help.

Amy Barrett, at Terra Ceia Christian School, said families persuade friends and neighbors to buy the cards online and credit the school.

In the three years she has taken part in the program, Barrett said, she has seen families earn as much as a month’s tuition, more than $500.

“We have other people from the community who buy Scrips and donate to the family of their choice,” she said.

The school tries to keep Walmart and Food Lion gift cards on hand at all times. Barrett said they are the most popular ones.

At UCA, Sheetz gas cards and Walmart gift cards are the most popular. Sheetz currently pays 3 percent of the value of the card to the school; Walmart pays about 2.5 percent.

There are gift cards available to restaurants, bookstores, department stores and hotels.

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