ESSEX — As part of a philanthropic program started by grocery store chain Weis Markets last year, three local schools received $400 donations earlier this month to help navigate financial challenges.

Essex #86 store manager Franz Kraus presented giant checks to each of the schools – Golden Ring Middle School, Stemmers Run Middle School and Sussex Elementary School – that were worth a portion of the $500,000 donated by the retailer, which currently operates 196 stores in seven states.

“I am honored to help these schools and hope to make an impact,” Kraus said. “I am glad that I get to be a good steward to the community, and create relationships with these schools.”

Each of the individual donations were based on the number of rewards points generated from eligible purchases made on Weis Preferred Shopper club cards in the past year by consumers, who linked their club cards to the school they intended to support. In Sept. 2020, all pre-K through 8th grade schools were invited to register for the “Weis 4 School” program to receive a barcode, and shoppers could then scan that code during checkout to register their club cards.

Kraus, who has three young daughters, said that he wants to support families of children who may have limited financial resources, and that this was a way for him to give back to the community.

Administrative personnel for the schools accepted the checks on behalf of their respective school, and said that they were pleased and grateful to receive the contribution and will invest it wisely.

“We appreciate the direct support of children and families in the community,” Stemmers Run principal Bryan Thanner said. “(The donation) gives us an opportunity to support them during this tough time.”

“It is nice to know that the community is backing us up,” Sussex Elementary principal Thomas Bowser said. “We have a lot of needs right now, and it is nice to have that resource available.”

Golden Ring Middle School assistant principal Terrence Robinson said that the program is about more than just the donation; it is about the partnership.

“I am always glad to form relationships with community partners to help meet the needs and goals of the school, from staffing to supplies and other resources,” Robinson said.

Registration for the program for the 2021-22 period has opened and will end on April 30, and the retailer will distribute funds again around this time next year.

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