Santa Claus arrived early Wednesday morning at Sinai Elementary School as Dollar General managers Hank Bruining and Matt Hunt handed a yellow and black box containing a big surprise to Principal Kevin Neal.
Neal opened the box as students and school officials looked on, finding a check for $40,000 made out to the school.
"I couldn't believe it," said the flabbergasted Neal.
"It was just amazing. I was told by a company representative last week that we would be receiving a surprise, but I had no idea it would be of this magnitude."
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon, on hand for the presentation, shared the thought: "It just brought tears to my eyes," said Herndon. "I had been told that it was an important gift, but I had no idea of its magnitude."
Bruining, Senior Manager for Human Resources at the South Boston distribution center, explained that the gift to Sinai Elementary continues a long standing relationship between Dollar General and the school.
"We have supported their literacy program through their 'Reading Is Fundamental' [initiative] for the past ten years, providing books for the students to take home and with other supplies," said Bruining, "but when Dollar General announced this new program, 'Reading Revolution' this year, we thought of Sinai Elementary."
Dollar General's new Reading Revolution program aims to provide schools with extra resources to purchase books, computers and other educational supplies to enhance reading and literacy programs. This is the first year of the program; Bruining said some 12 schools around the nation located near company headquarters or distribution centers have been chosen to receive the awards.
"By supporting Sinai Elementary School with this gift, we hope to help students become better readers, more successful students and lifelong learners," said Denine Torr, Dollar General's director of community initiatives.
Herndon praised the company for making such a large investment in the community.
"It's also a great investment in the future of our children and one we greatly appreciate."
Neal said he and school staffers will sit down after the Christmas holidays to look at needs at Sinai and make long-range plans for using the money. "We want to be very careful to spend it so as to get the most bang for our bucks." He expressed his thanks to Dollar General for the generous gift.