Happy holidays. What a year it’s been, but even COVID-19 couldn’t dent Kentucky electric cooperatives’ overarching mission of providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity while supporting the communities they serve.
Electric co-ops and their employees give to communities throughout the year, but especially during the holidays. Here are a few of the thoughtful, much needed programs co-ops are involved in this time of year.
INTER-COUNTY ENERGY COOPERATIVE
Inter-County Energy Cooperative started its Christmas Blessings program 13 years ago. During that time, the cooperative has helped 103 families and 282 children in its service area, raising more than $42,000. The program provides families and children with Christmas gifts, coats and other clothing, and enough food to support them through their holiday break.
Inter-County Energy Cooperative employees Farrah Coleman, left, and April Burgess prepare to play Santa with sacks full of wrapped Christmas items for families in their community. Photo: Morgan Janssen
As a cooperative, Inter-County Energy embraces its mission of Commitment to Community, says Executive Assistant Farrah Coleman. “What better way to act on that commitment than to directly give back to our members who are in need,” she says.
Over the years, the program has helped lighten the burden many families carried during the Christmas season, including serious illness or unemployment. That’s why the program also has been a blessing to Inter-County employees, Coleman says, and the reason they continue “to work hard to provide this program for what we hope will be many years to come.”
One to one
FLEMING-MASON ENERGY COOPERATIVE
Each year, Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative hosts the Fleming County Interagency Council’s Community Christmas. Each co-op employee purchases age-appropriate gifts for a selected child to be given at Community Christmas. Fleming-Mason Energy also donates to the event financially each year.
Last December, this program served nearly 300 children in need with gifts. More than 200 volunteers support this endeavor with donations and assistance each year. This year, families will come to the co-op’s auditorium to pick up gifts at scheduled times to comply with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last November, Jackson Energy Cooperative employees completed the Giving Back community project, packing 150 Thanksgiving food baskets with items they purchased. The food baskets were delivered to food banks, school family resource centers and other organizations within Jackson Energy’s seven-county service area.
Information Systems/AMI technician Lindsy Russell adds the final touches to one of Jackson Energy Cooperative’s food baskets before delivery. Photo: Lisa Baker
The groups then delivered the baskets to families who needed a helping hand during the holiday season.
This Thanksgiving, Jackson Energy Cooperative made monetary donations and employees look forward to being able to contribute to next year’s project.
Teaming up for the town
WEST KENTUCKY RECC
West Kentucky RECC is making financial donations to the children’s gift programs coordinated by school-based Family Resource and Youth Services Centers in the four counties the co-op serves.
“We are donating a total of $1,000,” says Georgann Lookofsky, West Kentucky RECC’s communications and media relations coordinator. “That’s $250 to each county. In the past we have helped by purchasing gifts, but the resource centers asked for financial donations this year due to COVID protocols.”
Lighting Up Christmas
Each year, Farmers RECC sponsors the Lighting Up Christmas program for a school in its service territory. The Farmers RECC Events Team members gather unwrapped toys and monetary donations for the selected school to give to students in need.
Throughout the year, staff members at the school work with their Family Resource and Youth Services Centers to identify families that need essential items such as shoes, shirts, socks, coats and food.
Since 2013, Farmers RECC employees have donated more than $10,000 to area students in need during the Christmas season.
Co-op employees also participated in the Glasgow Christmas Parade in 2019 and will do so again this year. This year’s parade will feature an extended route to encourage social distancing.
Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Gibson Connect employees donate nonperishable food items to food pantries throughout southwest Kentucky and northwest Tennessee, through a program called Dan’s Cans. Since 2009, employees have donated 6,999 pounds of food items in honor of co-op President and CEO Dan Rodamaker.