Shopko donates to Dowagiac school district

Dowagiac Shopko Store Manager John Harmeyer presents a $750 check to State/Federal Grants Program Director Karina Daiga (left) and Financial Director Stacy Ritchie with Dowagiac Union Schools inside the local retail store Wednesday afternoon. The donation was given to the school district as part of the store’s “Help Us Give Back” campaign, which took place in December. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Dowagiac Shopko Store Manager John Harmeyer presents a $750 check to State/Federal Grants Program Director Karina Daiga (left) and Financial Director Stacy Ritchie with Dowagiac Union Schools inside the local retail store Wednesday afternoon. The donation was given to the school district as part of the store’s “Help Us Give Back” campaign, which took place in December. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Last December, customers of the Dowagiac Shopko Hometown store were asked to simply sign their name to a piece of paper to show their support of the local school district.

That modest gesture paid off in a big way this month, as the store chain donated $750 to the district Wednesday as part of its annual “Help Us Give Back” campaign. The Shopko Foundation cut the check based on the amount of signatures collected by employees of the Dowagiac store, with one signature equalling $1 given (up to $2,000).

“It’s something Shopko is very focused on — helping our hometown communities whenever we can,” said Dowagiac Store Manager John Harmeyer. “This is an example of that.”

Unlike similar donation programs, the “Help Us Give Back” campaign doesn’t require the customers themselves to pay anything extra — all they need to do is write their name down and the foundation takes care of the rest, Harmeyer said.

The retail chain has supported Dowagiac Union Schools through the campaign the last several years. The store also donated $2,500 to the district when it first opened inside the former Pamida location in 2012.

Accepting the donation Wednesday were Dowagiac Union Schools Financial Director Stacy Ritchie and State/Federal Grants Program Director Karina Daiga. The pair said the donation would be distributed across every building in the district, going toward paying for projects “above and beyond” what the administration normally pays for.

“It’s great they’re giving back to schools anyway they can,” Daiga said.

“Next year we’re expecting to give even more,” Harmeyer said. “All we need is for customers to come in and shop.”

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