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Dollar General donation is for reading, literacy
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Ripon Superintendent Ziggy Robeson and Ripon Elementary School Principal Dana Phelps are pictured with Dollar General representatives, from left, Ripon store manager Sean OConnell, Tim Bartlett, regional director and Shaun Wettgen, district manager. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

It was a $50,000 surprise.
The Dollar General Stores presented Ripon Elementary School Principal Dana Phelps with a check for $50,000 to enhance reading endeavors Thursday evening during a school open house.  No one knew what the retail store chain was about to present to the school – not even the principal.
The reactions of the administrators, staff and parents was the same – total surprise and shock – followed by the room exploding in applause.
The funds from Dollar General Stores’ General Community Outreach will go toward the school library and to the literacy program. However Principal Dana Phelps was told she could use the funds at her discretion to best achieve the goal of the firm’s Reading Revolution Program by purchasing books, technology programs, and computers as well as other educational supplies and resources.  Dollar General Community Outreach centers around literacy and education. 
Since its inception in 2013, Dollar General has donated more than $2.6 million to schools through its Reading Revolution Program.
The school cafeteria was filled with families who had turned out for the open house night that promised ice cream for the students and didn’t know anything about what to expect when they sat down in the cafeteria.
“The best part in being principal was being able to watch the reaction of my staff,” Phelps said following the event.
 Staff members sat on three benches near the front of the room within feet of the presentation by the corporate staff members.
She said she had received a call of the Dollar General headquarters near Nashville, TN, in March and was skeptical when told they wanted a date on the calendar when they could send representatives to come to Ripon and make a presentation to the school – thinking it was something of a gimmick.
Phelps quoted the caller saying, “I can tell you are a little leery of my call.  If you are not happy with what you receive, I will fly you out here and host you to a steak dinner.”
The principal said she decided to go along with the program, not knowing what was being presented until Thursday night when she was literally floored with the $50,000 check. She said she didn’t think she was going to be able to sleep when she got home because she was so excited for her students and for the school family.
Representing Dollar General were Ripon store manager Sean O’Connell, Tim Bartlett, regional director; and Shaun Wettgen, district manager. 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email