RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The lunchtime rush is just about to begin at Ellwood Thompson’s. As customers make their way through the checkout lines at the Carytown store, they are presented with a new program.

“Instead of getting your bag credit today, did you want to donate your bag credit?” a cashier asks shopper Julie Mayo.

Mayo is learning about the Wooden Nickel Program for the first time and loves this new opportunity.

“It’s an incredible thing to combine something that people are already doing and will always be doing with an opportunity to give to someone else,” she says.

Instead of receiving a dime back per bag they take in to carry out their groceries, customers can donate the coins to a local charity.

The Wooden Nickel Program started January 1, 2017.

Colin Beirne, Ellwood Thompson’s Spokesperson, says it has already become so popular that the store has to start each week with empty canisters for customers.

“It really resonates with folks just because it makes them feel good,” says Beirne. “They were just excited to be a part of this program.”

Each quarter of the calendar, Ellwood Thompson’s will pick two charities from applications received.

Currently, customers can support UnBound RVA or the RVA Environmental Film Festival.

“It’s so easy to shop and then do it on your way out,” shopper Lauren Beck explains, as she divides her wooden coins among the two charities. “I try to give back as much as I can. Any little way helps.”

The program is also a nod to Richmond’s history; banks used wooden coins as alternatives to real money during the Civil War when economic times were tough.

Now the cents can offer a sense of community at the store.

“Pass on those proceeds,” says Beirne. “Give back and be involved.”

Ellwood Thompson’s will choose two more nonprofits in April, July and October, and the program will go on indefinitely.Never miss another Facebook post from 8NewsFind 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to