E-mails promising a “BIG surprise” are pretty common, but they usually turn out just to be SPAM or a scam. Every so often though, such e-mails live up to their billing.
Pleasant View Elementary School Principal Bobby Gibbs can personally attest to this fact.
“It was a pretty awesome deal. Literally it was an e-mail that I thought was spam at first. It said, ‘Hey we have a big surprise for Pleasant View Elementary,’” Gibbs said.
The e-mail was from Cindy Prior, Dollar General Community Initiatives Manager, who wouldn’t even tell Gibbs what the surprise was, but she promised that he would be shocked by it.
It took a little while to come up with a date that was good for everyone, but on Thursday morning after a two-week wait, students, teachers and administrators gathered in the school gym for an assembly along with Dollar General representatives to receive their surprise.
The assembly started with Prior reading a book to students before she presented Gibbs with a small black box with a yellow ribbon. When he opened it, he wasn’t disappointed.
Inside was a check for $50,000 to support the schools reading and literacy initiatives.
“We were very pumped, very excited,” Gibbs noted.
“The commitment that Dollar General has made to our students and our community is overwhelming. Their belief, like ours, is that with great literacy support our students can achieve at high levels. We are excited about the future at Pleasant View Elementary!”
Gibbs said that his school always applies for Dollar General grants whenever one becomes available, and had won $1,000 and $1,500 grants in the past, but this money wasn’t something that they had applied for.
Ron Leach, Dollar General’s district supervisor for Kentucky-Tennessee market, did provide some insight about how the gift came about when he visited the school before the surprise presentation, Gibbs said.
He explained that several photos had made their way to the corporate office showing Pleasant View preschool students shopping at the community Dollar General store, which marked the end of their store learning unit.
“When corporate saw the photos and heard the story, Mr. Leach explained they wanted to reach out and do something special for the school and community,” Gibbs explained.
The money comes as part of Dollar General’s Reading Revolution program.
“Administrators may use the Reading Revolution funds at their discretion to best achieve their literacy goals by purchasing books, technology programs, computers and/or other educational supplies or resources, Dollar General officials said in an e-mail.
“Since the inception of the Reading Revolution program in 2013, Dollar General has provided more than $2.9 million to schools. Dollar General community outreach centers around literacy and education.”
To be eligible for a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, an organization must be a nonprofit organization as determined by the IRS, or a public library, school or college providing direct literacy services within a state that Dollar General Corporation operates in and is within 15 miles of a Dollar General store, according to the company’s website.
In the case of Pleasant View, the closest Dollar General is one of its closest neighbors sitting about 60 yards away from the school.
Gibbs said that the school plans to use the money for a number of different things, one of which will be its 1:1 Chromebooks initiative that will allow all kindergarten through sixth grade students at the school equal access to high quality educational programs and software, which will also be purchased.
“Students will also enjoy the plethora of new books that will soon stock our library shelves,” Gibbs added.
“I will work with our teachers to ensure that we supplement and enhance their literacy efforts as well as suggestions for professional learning opportunities to help us implement the most recent researched-based strategies and effective practices for our students.”