It's fast becoming another sign of spring as local school officials sort and bundle the last of the supermarket check-out receipts that can be redeemed for computers and computer equipment.
The equipment giveaway programs, both in their second year, are sponsored by Giant Food and Safeway Inc. They are offering Apple and IBM computers to area schools that collect enough receipts to qualify.
Giant has set March 16 as the last day schools can turn in their pink receipts and qualify in the chain's Apples for Students program. The schools then have until March 31 to place their orders for computers, printers and software.
Participants in Safeway's Computers for Classrooms program have until March 30 to hand in receipts and until April 13 to place orders.
Giant spokesman Barry Scher said about 2,500 schools have registered for the program thus far, 300 more schools than registered last year. In 1990, Giant gave away 5,700 computers and printers to schools in the Baltimore and Washington area. This year Giant is giving away both Apple and IBM computers.
"We are very pleased with the response and look forward to giving away even more computers and printers than we did last year," said Scher.
The Safeway program, which began with a giveaway of IBM computers last year, has added Apple computers this year in the Baltimore and Washington area. More than 1,260 schools participated last year, and Safeway gave away 1,398 computers and printers.