Whenever Freedom Elementary School needed help with a fund-raiser, the PTA knew it could count on George's Super Thrift store in Eldersburg, said parent Lillian Smith.
Store owner George Mezardash and general manager Michael Serio never say no to parents, Ms. Smith said. The store donates hot dogs for the PTA to sell. It trades computers and software for accumulated cash register receipts.
So last night, the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers, a statewide coalition of PTAs, awarded an honorary lifetime membership to Mr. Mezardash and Mr. Serio for their support of schools in South Carroll.
The award includes a donation in their names to the congress' scholarship fund.
"We just feel like the time has come," Ms. Smith said. "It's overdue, as far as I'm concerned. George has just always been there for Freedom Elementary. He's never turned us down for anything."
For Freedom and other schools in the South Carroll area, George's stores have offered a cash register receipt program similar to those larger chains have sponsored. Schools that collected a certain sum in register tapes could trade the receipts for computer software and equipment.
This year, the program will begin in the fall and include churches and other community groups. It will be called "Cash for the Community."
Mr. Mezardash owns six grocery stores in Eldersburg, Finksburg, Woodbine, Randallstown, Libertytown and Woodsboro. He also owns four Little George's convenience stores.
The headquarters are in Eldersburg, and Mr. Mezardash lives in Union Bridge.