Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 8

RM | COMMUNITY

POWERING
THEIR

community
White River Valley
works to lift up the
members they serve

by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

M

issouri's rural electric cooperatives are about
much more than keeping the electricity flowing
to their member-owners. While doing so safely
and in an affordable manner is one of the primary tasks, their other undertakings can be seen throughout
the community. It could be sending that high schooler on
the " Trip of a Lifetime " to Washington, D.C. or volunteering
to beautify a downtown or neglected neighborhood. Co-ops
exist to be interwoven into the community.
That's definitely the case in southwest Missouri at White
River Valley Electric Cooperative. The Branson-based co-op
serves more than 33,400 members in the region.
" We take the cooperative principle of Commitment to
Community seriously here, " says Cassie Cunningham,
manager of communications and member engagement at
White River. " Most everyone that works here, lives here.
So we know how important it is to bolster the community
where we live, work and play. "
Helping out is nothing new at the cooperative. They've
been doing so for decades by hosting food drives, donating
money to worthy causes and empowering their employees
to do good.
Food insecurity impacts about 15 percent of the population of southwest Missouri. Since 2014, the co-op has
hosted an annual fall food drive - Power to Turn Hunger
into Hope - to help pantries restock their shelves before
the end-of-year holidays.

8

RURAL MISSOURI | FEBRUARY 2021

photos courtesy White River Valley Electric Cooperative

In this photo from 2018, now-retired White River Valley Electric Cooperative employee David Hull drops money into a donation jar at the
co-op's Power to Turn Hunger into Hope food drive.
" Traditionally, we have an optional payroll deduction for
employees, " Cassie says. " We have employees who volunteer to stand outside grocery stores and collect donations
of food, toiletries or cash to help as well. We usually do a
couple locations in each county and then distribute it. "
COVID-19 threw their normal plan into flux in 2020
and an alternative was needed, especially considering
the demand for donations was greater this past year. The
co-op wanted to get the most bang for their buck so they
partnered with Springfield-based Ozark Food Harvest
which could stretch their money even further and provide
four meals for every $1 raised.
The food drive turned virtual with money being raised
from community and employee donations. A friendly
inter-office competition at White River led to the Ava office being the top earner. That money was paired with a
donation from the co-op that was matched by a Sharing
Success grant, a charitable giving program offered through
CoBank, a Denver-based cooperative bank serving rural
industries across the country. All combined the group
raised an incredible $25,974 which in turn can provide up



Rural Missouri - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 8
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 9
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 10
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 11
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 12
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 13
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Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover4
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