Just look around and most passersby would describe Aiken County as a place that loves dollar stores. I rarely pass one with an empty parking lot.

It may be tough to admit that, for some of us, avoiding Target’s dollar bins is also a real test of self-control. Come on, spending a dollar is easy, maybe too easy. Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, dollar menus, Dollar Shop, Dollar Item, Dollar Shave Club … you get the idea.

After all, it’s just a dollar.

It’s not like a splurge or something that requires reworking the household budget. We could probably scrounge together a dollar from coins in old handbags, car consoles or the catchall known as the living room sofa.

But for many students in Aiken County, $1 from you could make a difference in their future.

For the third consecutive year, the Aiken Standard is coordinating an effort we call the Community Christmas Card. It’s a fund we created for local educators to support Aiken County Public School children throughout the year.

Aiken Standard readers have heard my story. As a child, my family never had plenty of money. We planned ahead for big purchases like school shoes, winter coats and trips to the dentist. I never went without basic necessities but I also didn’t know what I was missing. I mean that literally. From my desk in the classroom, I could not see the writing on the chalkboard. If not for caring elementary school teachers and observant counselors who recognized that I showed potential but couldn’t answer questions in class, I wouldn’t have known that I needed glasses.

I believe it was a fund like the Community Christmas Card that allowed a teacher to have a drawerful of kids’ eyeglasses in little bags to offer students in need. To use a sports analogy, it was a game changer for me in school participation and personal development.

Of course, not long after I fished through that drawer of glasses, I saw an eye doctor and was fitted with my own pair but I will never forget that act of generosity and how it changed the way I saw school. Literally. Classroom instruction went from being confusing and hazy to clear and inspiring.

I think all kids deserve that generosity. When educators see a need, they should have a fund that allows them to help immediately and not bear the financial burden individually. We all know teachers who use their own money to help students and encourage them in their own unique way and most of the time, that takes money. I’m so thankful for their benevolence and their huge caring hearts but we want to support them if we can. And we can with the Community Christmas Card.

On Christmas Day, the Aiken Standard will publish a list of names of everyone who contributes at least $1 to this fund. Last year, I paid $5 and listed the names of my three nephews and two grandnephews. This year, I’ll add another dollar and the name of my newest grandnephew. The Aiken Standard will give 100% of the funds collected to the Aiken County School District. Last year we donated $5,150.

Mail or bring your donation to our office at 326 Rutland Drive N.W., Aiken, SC 29801 or donate online at and make sure to include the names you want printed in the paper on the Community Christmas Card. The last day to receive donations and be included in the Christmas Day edition is Friday, Dec. 13.

A dollar is a small way to have a huge impact in the life of a student. I speak from experience when I say that teachers have the power to change lives. Let’s join together and give Aiken County students a Christmas gift to help them all year long.

Rhonda Overbey is the publisher of the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star.