Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 9
ents to use as a virtual learning tool. They also launched
to 103,896 meals to those in need in the area.
Wi-Fi hotspots in each ofﬁce parking lot to assist those
" We are grateful to belong to a community that cares
with limited high-speed internet access or those in underso deeply for its members, especially in an area heavily
served areas. They've helped local medical centers get acimpacted by the pandemic, " says Nathan Stearns, comcess to low- or no-interest loans from the U.S. Department
munity programs coordinator for the co-op. " I'm proud of
of Agriculture to update equipment in the rural hospitals.
what we accomplished. "
They utilize such opportunities to help many businesses in
While Power to Turn Hunger into Hope was a huge sucthe region.
cess in 2020, it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes
Every holiday season, the employees of each ofﬁce raise
to what the co-op does. They utilize the popular Operation
money amongst themselves and choose a worthy cause.
Round Up program as well, where members can voluntariThe Branson headquarters has bought and delivered gifts
ly round up their bills each month to the nearest dollar.
and needed items to senior centers in the past, and even a
This small amount is made quite large when combined
pandemic couldn't slow down that good deed in 2020.
with all the members in the program. Members round up
" The simplest things can mean the most, " says Cassie.
between 1 and 99 cents per month, averaging out to about
" Before this past year, we could go in and visit and do
$6 per year. Since White River implemented the program
activities like play bingo, but of course we couldn't in
28 years ago, they've returned more than $4
million back into their community.
2020. Things we might take for granted like maybe
One of the programs Operation Round Up
socks and a scarf can mean so much. It's just heartsupports at White River is Power Up, an annual
All of these community endeavors are impreseducation grant program supporting projects
sive on their own, but combined they can make
outside of the normal public school funding. The
a true impact on the area overall.
grant was increased from a maximum of $500 to
" What we see across the board on all of
$750 in 2020.
our community programs is a domino effect, "
" It's for things in the classroom, after- or
Cassie says. " We promote rural economic
summer-school programs as long as it's enhancdevelopment which helps bring in jobs. Our
ing the learning experience, " Cassie says. " Our
partnerships with schools helps with workforce
Operation Round Up board awards these grants using set
development. Our food drives and monthly grants help
criteria, mainly which ones have the most overall impact.
those who are struggling and need it most. We're trying to
Then they look for things that can be used year over year
do our part to make things better, Commitment to Comand not just once. "
munity. The more our programs thrive, the more our comThis past year, the board awarded 135 teachers from 19
munities thrive. "
schools totaling more than $85,000 to further education in
To learn more about White River Valley Electric Co-op
Other projects taken on by the co-op include an online
and their programs, visit www.whiteriver.org.
educational resource page for students, teachers and par-
Left: White River Valley Electric Cooperative employee Ray Roy chats with a grocery store customer while stafﬁng the booth at the co-op's Power
to Turn Hunger into Hope food drive in 2018. This year, the food drive was held virtually and raised enough money for more than 100,000 meals.
Right: White River Valley employees Nick Sparks, left, Sara Murphy, center, and Nathan Stearns haul Christmas gifts to a local senior center in 2020.
FEBRUARY 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Rural Missouri - February 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2021
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