Mall program offers schools a financial boost

VIENNA – For the tenth year in a row, Grand Central Mall will award cash prizes to area schools with a receipt-based rewards program through its Earning for Learning program.

Earning for Learning encourages residents to shop at any Grand Central Mall retailer over a seven-week promotional period to earn points, and ultimately the chance to win cash prizes, for the school of their choice.

A total of $16,000 will be awarded.

During the Earning for Learning, July 27- Sept. 13, every dollar spent will equal one point. Shoppers present their receipts at Guest Services and designate their points to the school of their choice.

Shoppers retain their original receipts after recording their points.

Each school will be ranked on a point-per-student ratio. At the end of the contest, the top five schools will be awarded cash prizes.

The dates of this year’s program have been changed to fall more in line with the back to school calendars that have been created in our area.

“Most of our school systems are seeing a shift in their start date, so we’ve moved Earning for Learning up three weeks in the calendar year to reflect that,” said Katrina Stephens, marketing director at Grand Central Mall. “We want our schools to be rewarded for the shopping habits of their supporters, so we thought it was necessary to make sure that we didn’t miss those first few weeks of back to school shopping. Those receipts from that crucial time frame can really make a difference in the final standing of the competition.”

Shoppers can earn Double Points for purchases made on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the competition. The mall will announce additional opportunities to earn bonus points throughout the competition.

Bonus point categories will allow shoppers to earn extra points in addition to the dollar amount on their receipts. Opportunities will not be announced in advance, so shoppers are encouraged to follow Grand Central Mall on Facebook and Twitter for announcements, according to a press release.

Shoppers may also check the mall website or stop by Guest Services to keep up to date on opportunities.

This year will again see two schools receiving first place prizes, one private school and one public school, with each receiving $5,000. In addition, the following prizes will be awarded: second place $3,000, third place $2,000, and fourth place $1,000.

A total of 98 schools received points in the 2013 competition, representing 11 counties in West Virginia and Ohio.

Mall officials encourage schools and their supporters to be creative when rallying shoppers to support their school. “It really is important that school officials get creative in helping remind their students and parents about the program. Schools are welcome to hold internal competitions to collect receipts, send home bulletins and emails, send phone messages or use whatever means of communication they have with their supporters,” said Stephens.

Every K-12 school in the area is eligible to participate in the contest. Schools are not required to sign up. Shoppers have until the close of business on Sept.13 to turn in their receipts. The winning schools will be notified no later than Sept. 26.

Over the past nine years, Grand Central Mall has awarded $168,000 to area schools through Earning for Learning. This year’s program will award an additional $16,000, bringing the program total to $184,000.

Through the Guest Services center, shoppers also can donate new, unused socks and underwear for children in the community to earn bonus points. Mall officials hope to collect 1,000 items during the campaign.