PLEASANTON, Calif. - Safeway and partnering manufacturers donated $3.4 million to schools across the nation through an annual 10 percent back-to-school program. For the past five years, Safeway’s "10% Back to School program," held August through September, helps schools earn money from purchases of more than 2,500 selected products during the back to school season.

Customers participate in the program. During the payment process, customers swipe their Safeway club cards and automatically accumulate donations or “school dollars” for the school of their choice. This year's program came at the right time, given government cutbacks. Thousands of schools and education programs need funding to sustain vital programs, purchase equipment, and recognize excellence.

“This will allow us to purchase laptops for the mobile computer lab,” said Tonya Hodsdon, office manager of Chapman Hill Elementary School in Salem, Ore. “We’re making due with less. Luckily we had some really motivated parents who wanted to help our school and they really supported this program.”

Facing the reality of the economy with nearly closing its doors, a children’s museum and educational activity center called The KidZone Museum, in Truckee, Calif. also earned $25,515 to remain open.

“This is a big donation for us,” said Romina Branje, manager of The KidZone Museum. “With the economic situation now, we’ve had to make some cutbacks. So we told everyone about the program. We are so happy for this support.”

The program demonstrates a commitment to communities where Safeway operates. It sends a message to promote and aid education, which helps empower people to support their own communities. Educators, parents, and students all benefit, which leads to a richer community.