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    Big Y Extends Schools Program by Six Months

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Citing "overwhelming response" from nearly 2,000 participating schools, Big Y Foods here has extended the fourth round of its Education Express charitable program from January 2006 to June 28, 2006.

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Citing "overwhelming response" from nearly 2,000 participating schools, Big Y Foods here has extended the fourth round of its Education Express charitable program from January 2006 to June 28, 2006.

    Education Express allows Big Y shoppers to buy money-saving items with the Big Y Express Savings Club e-discount card, and also earn merchandise points for the school of their choice. Schools can then redeem the points for free equipment and supplies, including computers, software, textbooks, math and science equipment, and sports equipment.

    The free program eliminates the need to save, collect, and count cash register tapes, as the whole process is electronic.

    Since its introduction in 1994, the program has contributed over $7.5 million dollars worth of free teaching materials and classroom equipment to more than 1,900 schools in communities served by Big Y.

    In this fourth round alone, schools have accumulated more than $2 million in Education Express Points, the retailer said. The program extension will give schools more time to rack up additional points.

    "By extending this program another six months, schools now have the opportunity to make one final appeal for whatever equipment they need," noted Big Y's educational partnership administrator Michele D'Amour in a statement. "In these difficult economic times, this program can make any school system stretch their limited budget dollars even further."

    Participating shoppers fill out an enrollment form they can get online in stores. Points earned can be assigned to any school in Big Y's trade area. Education Express items are designated throughout the store by shelf signs with an image of a school bus, and customers can keep track of their accumulated points through printed grocery receipts. Currently almost two-thirds of Big Y's Express Savings Club members have joined the program.

    Family-owned and -operated Big Y runs 54 stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and has more than 9,000 employees.

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