Not-for-profit electric cooperatives have a responsibility not only to fulfill the needs of their consumer-members, but to help their neighbors in need. To that end, Operation Round Up was born.
Operation Round Up is a voluntary program in which more than 200 electric cooperatives across the country participate, including most Ohio electric cooperatives. The programs go by different names, but they all operate under the same premise: Small change makes a big impact in communities all across Ohio.
How big? Ohio electric co-ops gave back $1.57 million in just the past year.
Participating members’ monthly electric bills are rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the extra pennies go into a fund. The typical annual donation is $6 a year, or just 50 cents a month. That small change adds up to create a significant pool of money, which is then distributed to individuals, schools, nonprofit organizations, and other groups, depending on the cooperative’s program guidelines.
Butler Rural Electric Cooperative, Oxford
Butler Rural Electric has helped many local organizations with its Community Connection program, including a grant to the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities that enabled the agency to purchase a pediatric treadmill.
The equipment specifically helped little Lucas Myers take his first steps, a difficult task because of developmental impairments. Using the pediatric treadmill for eight minutes each day over the course of about three months, Lucas was able to walk about six months earlier than he would have without the therapy.
The Myers family says that the early intervention and equipment, thanks to the co-op’s Community Connection program, changed their lives.
Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative (GMEC), New Concord
GMEC has supported a therapeutic horse-riding center called Breaking Free through its Operation Helping Others program.
Breaking Free is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) PATH Premier Center member that provides therapeutic equine services to individuals, people with disabilities, and veterans. GMEC recognized that Breaking Free cannot operate and help individuals in need without the caring of generous donors.
“This story is a success. Breaking Free has been growing for eight to 10 years and looks to have a strong future. Though dreams like these often fall short of funds and passion with time, this one perseveres,” says Brian Bennett, GMEC’s manager of marketing and member services.
Logan County Electric Cooperative, Bellefontaine
Logan County Electric Cooperative has made Operation Round Up grants to many local organizations, including two shelters in the county.
The Lighthouse Emergency Shelter is a safe place for the homeless, and New Directions Consolidated Care established Soteria House, a haven for victims of domestic violence and abuse. Grant money has assisted in remodeling the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter, creating a healthy and secure environment.
New Direction officials say the co-op’s Operation Round Up grant gave them the opportunity to fund the curriculum for their Survivors of Trauma Embracing Positive Support program.
Midwest Electric, St. Marys
Midwest Electric received a letter from a member who wrote about how the co-op’s Community Connection Fund (CCF) helped his father, who had recently passed away.
The writer said that his father had received care from Grand Lake Hospice during his final days of life, and a woman from the hospice’s music therapy program offered great comfort to the entire family by playing music and singing. The member later found out that his own cooperative’s CCF had donated to the music therapy program.
The member feels a strong personal connection to CCF, and he is thankful for the resources that it provides.
Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, North Baltimore
Hancock-Wood awards the bulk of its grants to local organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity; police and fire departments; libraries, schools, and museums; county services agencies; city missions; and centers for children’s aid.
The words of the co-op’s grant recipients tell the story of why the Operation Round Up program is crucial to improving the quality of life in local communities:
“Your humanitarian efforts provide comfort and hope to so many during their times of need. Thank you for your commitment to this critically important work. Our mission depends on the support and compassion of donors like you.”
“We truly appreciate your partnering with us and allowing us to be your hands, as together we meet the needs of individuals and families right here in our own community. Your willingness to share with others will bring much joy to those who find themselves in difficult situations. Thank you for being a beacon of hope.”
“It’s partners like you who make this a great place to live.”
For more information, or to find out if your co-op offers an Operation Round Up program, contact your electric cooperative.
Maura Gallagher is a strategic communications major at Ohio University who interned at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives this summer.