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Influential Women: Denine Torr, Dollar General

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GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — One of the things that attracted Denine Torr to Dollar General was its mission of Serving Others, a purpose that she says goes beyond mere words on paper.

influential womenThat mission resonated with Torr when she joined the company 23 years ago, and it continues to drive her commitment today.

As vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, Torr oversees the strategic development and execution of Dollar General’s philanthropic initiatives and sustainability disclosures for its more than 19,000 store communities, distribution centers and corporate headquarters. Her role encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities, all aimed at positively impacting communities and individuals across the nation.

One significant milestone in those efforts this year is the celebration of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s 30th anniversary. The foundation’s programs are designed to serve individuals of all ages, from K-12 students striving to read at grade level to adults seeking to improve their literacy skills or earn their high school diplomas.

Dollar General’s dedication to philanthropy and social responsibility — and its legacy of promoting literacy — can be traced back to its cofounder, J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate.

Denine Torr

Denine Torr

“Turner and his son, Cal Turner, started the company known today as Dollar General at the end of the Great Depression,” Torr says. “He saw his neighbors going without. So, he and his son started a business that could help meet customers’ basic needs by providing products they need at prices they can afford. The company’s philanthropic strategy is a reflection of this desire to serve others and meet basic needs. At the heart of our philanthropy is a commitment to advancing literacy and basic education because of its power to help level the playing fields in life and open doorways to new opportunities.”

In recognition of that insight, grandson and former DG chief executive officer Cal Turner Jr. established the Dollar General Literacy Foundation in 1993 in J.L. Turner’s honor. Over its 30 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has invested more than $233 million in programs across the United States that have helped more than 19 million individuals learn to read or receive their high school diploma.

Another critical initiative at Dollar General is the Employee Assistance Foundation (EAF), a program Torr personally initiated in 2005. This foundation provides support and financial assistance to employees during unexpected hardships, such as natural disasters, loss of a loved one or loss of home.

“I received approval to launch the EAF spring of 2005,” Torr recalls, “and the first thing we responded to was Hurricane Katrina. Since then, we’ve been there and helped more than 10 thousand of our coworkers during their time of need with over $16 million in assistance.”

The EAF provides help and hope to coworkers during times of need. While the EAF is a vital part of the company’s philanthropic efforts, Dollar General also extends hope and help in a variety of ways through its focus on nourishing the mind, body and planet. This focus is reflected in efforts to advance literacy and education, hunger relief, reforestation, disaster relief, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among several other initiatives.

Torr says she finds it telling that every member of Dollar General’s executive leadership team is actively involved in these efforts. “Giving back and Serving Others is part of the DNA of this company, and I think that speaks volumes to the dedication of our leadership and our commitment to our customers and our communities.”


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