By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana Daily Sun
After 10 years, Paul DePugh finally did the math.
“$89,000 in free meals,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘Am I really giving that away?’”
On Monday, the CiCi’s owner was at Carroll Elementary giving away a bicycle to pre-Kindergarten student Nancy Ramirez, who had entered her school’s drawing at his restaurant on West State Highway 31 in April.
From September through May, DePugh works diligently with Corsicana elementary schools, plus the other six school districts (and a couple of junior highs) on school nights and a coloring contest of sorts. And each April, he solicits entries for the bicycle, as he has for the last decade, and pulls a random winner for each campus.
He has two schools left to present to this year.
“It’s not only bicycles, it’s rebate checks, discounts on pizzas and every year I start every teacher off with a free meal voucher,” he said.
It easily adds up to over $100,000 in possible free meals and bikes.
Every other month, DePugh delivers 6,000 black and white coloring panels to the schools. The students can bring the colored panels in and get a free meal ($2.99 value) with a paid adult’s meal. He distributes about 30,000 each school year.
If they all get redeemed, it’s almost $90,000.
The meals he gives to the teachers and their aides have no additional purchase requirements.
CiCi’s also has a monthly school night for all of the participating schools in the county, and at the end of the year, he totals all of the receipts up for those nights and gives money back to the schools. On Monday, Dr. Yvonne Johnson accepted a check for $117 from DePugh.
Dr. Johnson, DePugh said, really backs the program, and even has him out at the beginning of the year for a pep rally.
“The reception is usually overwhelming at the schools,” DePugh said, “especially at a school like Carroll, where Dr. Johnson is into it.”