Dollar General surprises Santa Fe High with $40,000

Dollar General, an Alachua Commerce Center tenant, donated $40,000 to Santa Fe High School. Dollar General has a tradition of investing in the communities that surround them. We are happy to have a company like Dollar General in Alachua. 

By Erin Jester | The Gainesville Sun

Santa Fe High Principal Beth LeClear waited in the school’s media center before first bell Wednesday morning, hesitantly ready to receive a mystery gift from Dollar General.

“They just told us to be here,” LeClear said.

When she opened the black and yellow box handed to her by the store’s representatives, LeClear’s mouth formed a round ‘O’ of surprise.

Inside was a check for $40,000.

“Oh, oh my,” LeClear stuttered. “Wow.”

The retailer brought the check to Santa Fe with the goal of starting a “reading revolution,” distribution center director Alain Arrendell told the waiting crowd of teachers and students.

The $40,000 may be used for any endeavor that promotes literacy, he said.

Santa Fe was chosen for the gift because of its proximity to the Dollar General distribution center in Alachua, which Arrendell said employs many Santa Fe students’ parents. Both of his daughters graduated from the school.

“We believe in investing in communities that we call home,” he said. “We are proud to donate $40,000 to Santa Fe High School for your library and your reading program.”

LeClear might’ve been shocked into silence at the gift, but as soon as she announced the amount on the check, a student seated nearby yelled, “Oh, snap!”

It was Mikayela Lynch, 17, an avid reader who hopes the money will help improve the library’s collection and inspire her fellow students to love reading.

“It means a lot because now the library can buy more books,” Lynch, a junior, said. “We can just make it a place where kids want to be.”

LeClear said a chunk of the money will go into expanding the library, particularly the nonfiction section. She tries to allocate $3,000 to $5,000 a year from the school budget for more books and materials for the media center, but said that’s not enough to overhaul even one section.

With a gift that generous, she said, Santa Fe will be able to buy new book series, expand the nonfiction section and get some more technology into the media center, including iPads and Nook tablets.

Even after the Dollar General reps left the school, the usually outspoken LeClear was still shaking her head in disbelief.

“I thought I read the check wrong,” and that it was for $4,000, not $40,000, she said. “I was like, ‘I wonder if they knew they gave us 40?’ ”


Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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