Students with Lamar Elementary in Denison were surprised Wednesday morning by a $50,000 donation to literacy and reading programs at the school. The donation was made by Dollar General as a part of its Reading Revolution program.

“Now I am thinking we need to get a plan together and get a strategy on how to spend this money to help our kids be better readers,” Lamar Principal Janet Mobley said.

Mobley was not fully aware of the donation before Wednesday's school assembly, as representatives for the retailer only said they wanted to give the school a gift. Mobley said she later found out that the general manager of a local store nominated Lamar for the donation.

Mobley said the students were excited about the news, with many telling her that they were rich because of the donation.

“I have three-year-olds — the value of $50,000 is abstract, but they knew it was something … important,” she said.

Mobley said the money will go to an important cause, as literacy and reading are the building blocks for future education.

“Reading is the foundation for everything,” Mobley said. “I mean, math, science social studies and in any subject area, you need to read to learn.”

Rocky Moon, who is the general manager of the Denison Dollar General on U.S. Highway 69, was the manager to nominated the school for this donation and presented the check to school officials Wednesday. Moon chose to donate to Lamar as it was the closest to his store and his home.

“Many of my customers that come in have children who go there,” he said.

Moon said the retail chain operates a literacy foundation and each store collects donations each year. At the end of each campaign, the top ten stores are given $10,000 to donate to a school of its choice. In the past, when his store has received the award, Moon said he tried to split the money between Lamar and other schools in the area.

Moon said his store have been in the top 10 list for a record six times. In honor of this achievement, Moon said the retailer gave the store $50,000 to donate this year. In total, Moon said he has overseen the donation of close to $110,000 through Dollar General in recent years.

Moon mirrored Mobley's sentiments on the importance of reading, noting it is an early skill that helps with all development and learning down the road.

“I think with the current generation, reading and a strong understanding of words will help in the future,” Moon said. “They are our future.”

Moon thanked his customers who donated, noting they were the ones who allowed the store to make the donation in the first place.

“If it wasn't for their donations to the literacy foundation, none of this would have been possible,” he said.