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Dollar General helps promote education in Ceres
• $2,000 given to Ceres High School
Dollar General check.jpg
Assembled to pass a $2,000 donation to Ceres High School last week were City of Ceres Community Development Director Tom Westbrook, Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra, store manager Matthew Lightner, Ceres High School Principal Linda Stubbs, CHS Learning Director Kimberly McNeill and store cashier Lisa Nunes.

A $2,000 check delivered Thursday to Ceres High School officials from the Dollar General store in the Richland Shopping Center will be used to get kids excited about literacy and other aspects of education.

The store has been collecting change from customers and in some cases outright debit card donations since November for the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Store manager Matthew Lightner – who used to be a teacher – requested that money raised in Ceres stay in Ceres and foundation officials were happy to issue a literacy grant.

“I think we’re going to use it for rewards for kids,” said Principal Linda Stubbs. The school tries to hand out rewards for students who make certain achievements. “We haven’t set the criteria yet. It might be related to literacy. Literacy is really big, especially when you’re talking at a high school. It could be looking like improvement in grades, improvement in our English classes specifically. It could have a lot of different things with literacy.

Ceres High’s Lead Learning Director Kimberly McNeill said the school’s goal is to get students improve in literacy all across all the curriculum board. “So it’s not just English. It’s literacy in math, literacy in science.”

Stubbs said it’s been hard giving out rewards because of limited school funding “but this helps to be able to recognize our students for the things they do well.”

Cashier Lisa Nunes has been one the driving forces behind the donation collection effort. Lightner said she has been passionate about the project. She said she wants to focus next on supplying funds to Central Valley High School.

“My top amount was $37 in four hours so I get really excited about it,” said cashier Lisa Nunes, a 1982 graduate of Ceres High School.

Lightner said he is hoping to raise more through his customers.

“I’m hoping that it’s just a warmer-upper,” said Lightner, “because they also give to libraries, the elementary programs or the Chromebook donations.”

Lightner said his store provides helpful pamphlets with tips to parents on how to help engage their children in learning. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation also has a referral program to direct parents and adults to local literacy programs. That referral is also accessible online at or by calling 1 (877) 389-6874.

The foundation also encourages K-12 students to apply for a Youth Literacy Grant by visiting and applying by May 16. Maximum grant awards are $4,000.

Lightner said that the foundation was created in honor of Dollar General founder J.L. Turner, a farmer’s son who only had a third-grade education. He opened his first store in 1939 and turned it into a Fortune 200 company. The foundation has since given more than $120 million in grants to schools and non-profit organizations that promote literacy.