’Tis the season for giving

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The month of December is a time of giving, caring and sharing, and a special time for families
and friends to spend time together. The employees, managers and directors of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas celebrate this special time of year by giving their time, resources and joyful service to many charitable events and activities.

There are as many different types of service projects in our Arkansas cooperative communities as there are electric cooperatives. Collectively, the 17 distribution cooperatives serve portions
of the various regions of the state, with members residing in or owning businesses within 74 of the 75 counties. Each individual cooperative membership ranges from slightly less than 5,000 members to those that serve close to or over 100,000 members.

From agriculture-based businesses to large commercial and industrial companies, each cooperative’s members run the gamut. The needs in those communities vary as well. But regardless of the geography,economic drivers and business interests, our local cooperative leadership and employees are committed to making a difference for their members during the holiday season.

Arkansas’ per capita income ranks among the lowest within the United States, with its position
ranging between 46th to 49th, depending on the survey and the year. Accordingly, serving
those in need is a huge priority for electric cooperatives.

One of the most prevalent types of cooperative assistance during the holidays is providing food donations to local food banks,along with cash donations for pantry stocking. Hams, turkeys and holiday foods are donated by
some, and many cooperative employees work in local soup kitchens for the community holiday
meals.

One local cooperative has a year-long donation drive for the St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital in Memphis. These employees are engaged in a scrap metal recycling program to raise
the funds that go specifically to the children at St. Jude.

Another local cooperative participates in their community’s Christmas parade, and I am told that they have come in first place in the float division many times.

In the artistic arena, a couple of co-ops have annual Christmas card contests for children in
kindergarten through fifth grade. The cooperative employees select a winner and then use that
child’s design as the card that is sent to members. The lucky student gets a $50 gift card and
artist recognition.

Many of the holiday projects for cooperative members are focused on the needs of
children. Several of the local cooperatives collect toys for their members’ children, and one has
adopted the Santa’s Helper title of “Toy Troopers.” They purchase gifts for local children that
are adopted by the sheriff’s office, and they also adopt students through the Angel Tree
program.

Other children’s needs that are met include winter clothing and warm coats, along
with school items such as backpacks and supplies. On the senior end of the spectrum, some of
the cooperatives provide goody bags for nursing home residents.

Most recently, one of the local cooperatives created a nonprofit corporation called “Co-op
Cares.” This organization is funded solely by the cooperative employees, director and
vendors. This Christmas, the group will be giving money to 13 local schools for clothes closets,
backpack programs and an Angel Tree. In addition, funds will be donated to food pantries and
for the purchase of clothes and gifts. Service personnel will help distribute these items to
members throughout the cooperative’s service districts.

Another electric co-op has assisted with facility upgrades for a local animal shelter, cleaned a
local women’s shelter, assisted with the Horses for Healing program, helped repair facilities for
senior centers and packed meals for those in need, among other services.

Whatever it is that makes you the happiest during this special time of year, I hope that you
take the time to share those moments with your family, friends and colleagues. We wish all of
you a most blessed holiday season.

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