Yes, these are marketing programs. No doubt. And there are critics who think that any marketing that touches schools in any way is somehow taking advantage of kids. To me, that's hogwash.
But these companies have about 9,000 options of where to spend their marketing dollars and where to focus their community support, and they choose to support schools. Good for them. They could run 10 more ads on American Idol or buy a Super Bowl ad for a million or two. Instead, they put those dollars towards schools. I certainly hope they get more for their marketing dollars by doing this (I bet they do!), but I can guarantee you that a lot more good -- like field trips and playgrounds and teacher support and new computers and yadda, yadda) -- has been done through these collecting and school support programs than ever has been done with a Super Bowl ad.
So again -- on behalf of school parents -- thanks.