Company : Associated Wholesale Grocers
Program category : 2015 Community Outreach Awards Nominees


The principal concern of parents today is the education of their children. That is why Greer's has been proud to provide its “Apples For The Students” program since August of 2009. Their reach extends from Mt. Olive, MS east to Pensacola, FL then from Coffeeville, AL south to Mobile, AL. Greer’s 5-generation, family-owned, supermarket group has provided all the communities they serve with a program that puts much needed educational equipment into the classrooms of their customers’ children. It is widely known that many U.S. schools struggle with budgetary constraints brought on by the government, both state and federal. According to a study conducted by the National School Supply and Equipment Association, teachers are the primary source of funding for supplies in their own classrooms, accounting for up to 77% of their needed materials. Greer’s helps schools obtain much-needed equipment and supplies with their Apples for the Students program. Parents turn in register receipts from all 33 Greer’s supermarkets and the schools total the receipts up for credits. Teachers redeem these credits for school supplies, fully funded by Greer’s, who pays 1% of the total receipts collected. Greer’s Apples For The Students program motivates parents to spend more of their shopping budget at their local Greer’s supermarkets, recognizing that they are racking up points for free educational and sporting items for their school.


Since 2009 Greer’s stores have enthusiastically provided their community schools with over $336,000 in equipment and supplies that their kids use every day. There are over 60,000 students participating in over 100 schools connected to Greer’s 33 supermarkets. Greer’s “Apples For The Students” program under girds a schools’ budget by reducing some of the equipment needs, freeing monies for other standard and fixed costs. This is a win, win, win scenario! Parents and supporters are leveraging their grocery budgets and providing educational equipment for their children, while the teaching staff and students receive much needed equipment. This is all being accomplished while everyone is becoming more connected to those in their respective neighborhoods.


a. Develop a grass-roots plan that will serve Greer’s community and customers: a partnership in education while being a committed community steward. b. Support education at the primary level with free equipment. c. Humbly provide community education to our supporters. d. Provide an exciting community involvement project while building relationships, good will and loyalty. e. Generate enthusiasm and motivation at the store level, helping employees recognize the greater impact. f. Simultaneously helping lift the employees and staff while promoting throughout our various neighborhoods. There is a lot of activity both at the schools and in the stores. g. Bonus programs such as Early Registration Bonus, Receipt Collection Box Decoration Contest, and Double Credit Days. h. Utilize website and social media content to ‘get the word out’ for all the above activities.


Greer's Apples for Students Program has impacted schools in small communities as well as larger ones. We have seen the program grow each year from approximately 75 active schools to close to 150 now. The total credits submitted in year 1 reached $3,500,000 with approximate $35,000 in FREE educational equipment and supplies provided to participating schools. Receipts credits accumulated last year reached $7,500,000 more than doubling year 1! The program has provided a way for small, rural schools especially to enhance educational experiences with the additional "tools for schools" they are able to purchase. We have found that most schools once they have engaged their faculty, parents, students and community are growing credits from year to year. Teachers love the program! They are able to count on extras coming from Apples for Students cutting down "out of pocket" expenses. Parents love the program because they see the children working on a project at an early age that teaches them about service! The community loves helping the children! Greer's loves the communities we serve and of course the children! The impact of Greer's Apples for Students is measured by the growth in terms of receipt credits and active schools participation. From a company standpoint, this program has created loyalty to each local Greer's and continues to build sales during the period September 1 through March each year. We met and exceeded our primary and secondary goals. The new emphasis has been on reaching the schools and classrooms that have not yet become engaged. Store personnel from cashiers to the store leader are conscious and attentive in encouraging the community. Greer’s works hard each year to come up with new initiatives that help promote the program.


A key part of our Greer's mission statement involves continuously improving our community involvement. We operate 33 stores across three states so the Apples for the Students program gives us a community program that can work and is needed in every location, a common denominator, so to speak. We know that every family is concerned about the education of their children. The Apples Program gives us lots of creative ways we can work with schools, students, parents and our Greers team to rally joint support for our schools and kids! The Apples Program requires everyone to pull together, which is powerful! We like that the program is turn key in its basic backend functions, because this takes that responsibility off the retailer so we can focus our efforts on registering the schools, educating our customers, and building those important community relationships that help Greers stand out! Apples for the Students is also a great way to involve and teach all of our people the importance of giving back as a way of life; and that every business is not alike. Greers is different! We are about serving others and earning their trust and respect, not just making money. Apples is an expression of our service culture and has become one of our many Greer's differences that we are most proud of and that properly represent our Greers Vision: to bring added joy, well-being and value to people's lives! -Jack Greer, Owner and Vice President

Support Statement:

Jay Elementary School's partnership with Greer's and their employees provides opportunities and experiences beyond the regular curriculum as well as support with integrating technology. Because of this partnership, we have added activities and experiences that motivate students to enjoy their time in school, raise their expectations and strive to become college, career and citizen-ready. Our PI Night is one of our favorite activities where our students and parents participate in a real-world scavenger hunt in the local Greer's store, which incorporates multiple math standards and reinforces positive parent involvement. Greer's supports various student incentive programs through donations and discounts making it possible for us to recognize student successes. One of the most exciting contributions has been through the Apples for Students Program. As a result of the overwhelming participation of our parents and students as well as the Greer's management, we have been awarded over 25 iPads, which have been integrated into the classrooms along with various school supplies. -Kelly Allen, Principal of Jay Elementary School, Santa Rosa County