One of the many things that electric cooperatives are known for is their involvement in, and commitment to, their communities. In addition to providing life-sustaining and life-enhancing electricity service, our cooperative employees have a driving purpose and sense of community. We have a strong commitment to help make your town and community a thriving one and to focus on the various needs of cooperative members — from programs that raise money to combat health and wellness issues, to programs that serve the needs of our children, as well as efforts to sustain and improve our parks, wildlife and environment.
Since we live and work alongside you in your communities, it is important to us that we get involved in and become champions of civic projects and various volunteer efforts. These volunteer projects run the gamut from raising money for schools and participating in early reading programs, to cleaning and caretaking of public parks and sports venues, to raising money for community projects and various charities. Your local electric cooperative employees do all of these things, as well as the employees of your generation and transmission cooperative and statewide services cooperative in central Arkansas. From all four corners of the state to Little Rock, we are part of the fabric of many different Arkansas philanthropies.
One of the major service projects that we support is the Arkansas Food Bank. This year, as we have done since 2011, Arkansas’ electric cooperatives are participating in the Food Bank’s annual cereal drive. Our employees have donated over 83,000 boxes of cereal to Arkansas families in the last eight years! During this year alone, we will donate 15,000 boxes of cereal to the KTHV/Arkansas Food Bank Summer Cereal Drive. When school is out during the summer, many students who rely on the school lunch program miss out on their meals. That is where the Food Bank’s Summer Cereal Drive really fills a big need.
In addition to our commitment to food pantries, we are focused on meeting the needs of children at Christmastime. There are many single-parent and low-income families who struggle just to make ends meet for food and rent, let alone presents from Santa Claus. So, for the past eight years, our employees have participated in the U.S. Marine “Toys for Tots” Foundation Toy Drive to help hundreds of low-income families provide toys to their children. Since 2011, we have contributed over $5,000 and 923 toys that have made Christmas a little bit cheerier for children that would otherwise go without. It’s one of the most heartwarming events that we participate in each year.
We are also heavily involved in the “AR Kids Read” program, which is an adult volunteer program that works with young children to develop reading skills and a love for books at an early age, when reading developmental skills are crucial. Last year, this program included over 400 tutors working with nearly 800 students in 47 schools. For the past several years, dozens of cooperative employees have volunteered to tutor at-risk elementary students, with the goal of reading at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade. And the program is working as 81% of the students who are tutored have achieved higher reading scores, which not only improves literacy, but makes a long-term positive impact on the community at large.
Throughout the state of Arkansas, there are over 2,000 electric cooperative employees who volunteer their time, talents, and gifts to over 60 charitable and non-profit community organizations. There are as many different types of philanthropies and service projects as there are types of passions among our employees, so everyone can connect with some type of service that enriches the communities and lives of our members. Most likely, you know one or more local cooperative employees who are engaged in the health and well-being of your town. This is one of many things that makes our business model unique. It’s the Cooperative Way.