A dozen or more of these things can be found hiding in the kitchen cupboards of homes throughout Brookings and Harbor.

Alone, each holds little value, easily discarded with the household waste. But gathered in copious numbers, they can generate hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars for our local elementary school.

I'm talking about the pink and white box tops, the ubiquitous "tags" that adorn the flaps of thousands of food products in our kitchens.

We all have them and members of the Kalmiopsis Elementary School PTO want them andndash; loads of them!

Last year, the PTO collected and submitted enough box tops to earn $915, said Melanie Rutledge, the PTO's Box Tops coordinator at Kalmiopsis.

"It's free money; just cut it off the box," she said.

The school gets 10 cents for each box top and can earn up to $80,000 (more on that in a minute).

"This year's goal is to raise $1,250," Rutledge said.

I think this community can raise much more than that. After all, this is the same community that, last year, cast enough online votes to help Kalmiopsis win $100,000 in U.S. Cellular's "Calling all Communities" Internet contest.

Collecting box tops will be a piece of cake compared to the efforts made in that contest. You simply clips the box tops from the food products in their home, collects them and drops them off at school. And you don't have to have a child in school to help out.

If it's more convenient, you can drop them off at the Curry Coastal Pilot office (507 Chetco Ave.). I'll do the rest.

Meanwhile, the school will continue to ask students to collect box tops at home and bring them to school. At the end of each month, the box tops are counted and the class with the most earns a party

with cupcakes, cookies or popsicles. A pizza party is awarded at the end of the school year to the class that turns in the most.

According to the web site www.boxtops4education.com, where you can track each school's points, the Box Tops for Education program was founded by in 1996 food giant General Mills.

There are more than 250 Box Tops for Education brands, including Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Kleenex, Huggies, Ziploc, Hefty, Juicy Juice, Avery, Welch's and Land O'Lakes.

The collected box tops are sent to General Mills, which mails back checks to the schools. Kalmiopsis can earn up to $80,000 a year, up to $20,000 respectively, from the Clip, Marketplace, Reading Room and My Class Essentials components of the program. Learn about these and more ways to earn cash for the school by contacting Rutledge at boxtops4school@gmail. com.

Thousands of schools have used the cash from Box Tops for Education to purchase items such as computers and computer software, library books, art supplies, field trips and playground equipment.

Rutledge is excited about the new bonus box tops and a contest called "The Difference One Makes." General Mills has kicked up the rewards and is offering weekly drawings of 5,000 points and a grand prize drawing of 500,000 points to be awarded to one school. At 10 cents per box top, that would bring in $50,000!

It is just so darn easy. There's already a container on my kitchen window sill where I'm depositing my box tops.

So how about it, people of  Brookings and Harbor? This is my challenge to you: Check your cupboards, clip those lonely box tops and send them in!

Don't wait. Time is running out andndash; General Mills sends checks to the schools twice a year. The next deadline to submit box tops is the end of September.