Shall we do the grocery receipts dance again? We shall. We hereby start.

For the ninth year in a row, it's my pleasure to announce the beginning of a drive to place educational equipment in a public D.C. junior high school. If all goes the way we hope, we'll soon see millions of dollars of support from readers who shop at Giant Food and Safeway stores.

The school we'll be helping this year is Shaw Junior High School, at 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW. As always, we center our drive around just one school so we can have as much concentrated effect as possible.

I don't choose the lucky-duck school and never have. Neither does the mayor, the superintendent of schools or the man in the moon. The winning school chooses itself, by improving attendance more than any other junior high in the D.C. system. Shaw did that from 1997 to 1998, the most recent periods for which statistics are available.

Since we began this effort way back when, we've collected more than $46 million worth of grocery receipts from readers. That is a stupendous response, and I'm grateful to every one of you who kicked in your receipts.

But now we have to do it again. We're hoping to hit $8 million worth of receipts this time around -- the same goal we set last year, and just missed.

This year's program will work in a more complicated way than programs of the past, because Safeway has changed its procedure. It will no longer redeem receipts.

To take part in the Safeway program for the benefit of Shaw, you will have to obtain a Safeway Club Card (a "frequent flyer card" for Safeway patrons). You can obtain a Club Card at any Safeway.

Once you receive the card, you designate Shaw as the beneficiary by filling out a form, which is also available at any Safeway. Mail the form to Shaw Junior High School (the address is above -- the Zip code is 20001).

Even if you already have a Safeway Club Card, you will need to designate Shaw as the beneficiary by obtaining a form, filling it out and mailing it to the school. If you have any questions about any part of the Safeway program, call 1-800-352-4658.

The Giant Food program works as it has in the past. When you shop at any Giant, save the receipt the checkout clerk hands you. Then mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.

The Safeway program begins Oct. 1 and ends March 31, 2000. The Giant program began yesterday (Sept. 19) and runs through Feb. 19, 2000. Giant receipts that can be counted in this year's program are white with red lettering. Please do not send any receipts from any previous year. They are worthless. Additional information about the Giant program is available by calling 1-888-4MYGIANT.

Shaw Principal Yvonne Lewis said "it's an honor" for her school to have been chosen for the 1999-2000 grocery receipt drive. Asked what Shaw will do once it redeems the receipts I'll send its way, she said she has "two visions."

The first: "Uniforms and different things" for the Shaw band, which is "one of the best junior high school bands in the city."

The second: "One computer lab, up to date, a real computer lab we can use to really teach." Lewis said Shaw has computers, which it uses to the extent possible. But they're machines that "somebody donated from 1960." She's looking for bigger, faster, newer, better. Your grocery receipts will help assure that.

Lewis said she'll soon arrange a counting and bundling army at Shaw. Receipts need to be redeemed by next spring. Lewis said it would simplify her life greatly if donors would count their receipts before mailing them and attach a total to each clump.

If you'd rather bring your receipts to me, please use the side entrance to The Washington Post at 1515 L St. NW. The closest Metro stops are McPherson Square on the Blue or Orange lines and Farragut North on the Red Line.

Please bring receipts only during normal business hours. Make sure your gift is inside an envelope with my name printed legibly on the outside.

You may contribute as many or as few Giant receipts as you like. But please circle the total on each slip, for faster handling. At the request of D.C. public school officials, please do not bring receipts to Shaw, for security reasons.

I'm well aware that schools elsewhere in the area will run similar receipts drives. I don't seek to undermine those efforts. The point of our drive is to aim as much help at a needy school as possible -- especially a school that has trouble helping itself.

Why? For one thing, there are relatively few Giants or Safeways near Shaw. For another, the Shaw community is relatively poor. It spends relatively less on groceries because it has less to spend. For a third thing, Shaw doesn't have the large squadrons of parent volunteers that so many suburban public schools and private schools count on.

Any questions about this campaign? Call me at 202-334-7276 or e-mail me at

Many thanks in advance to all who take part. Special thanks to Giant and Safeway for offering this program yet again. Let's take dead aim at $8 million. We can do it with your help.