Charging the Future

Posted: July 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Operation Round Up awards 22 scholarships to area’s brightest students.

The Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation allowed Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) to extend its investment in the community this year beyond essential, reliable electrical service by awarding traditional scholarships to 19 area high school seniors. Another three future collegians earned scholarships to the Wallace Community College Lineworker Program.

For many, the ORU scholarships provided a blessing for their educational and occupational aspirations.

“I think it’s really neat. A lot of times you wouldn’t think of your electric provider as a source of a scholarship,” says Ashlyn Simpson, a Northside Methodist Academy graduate. “Then, you hear about the ORU Foundation and how they give back to the members. They are really invested in the future leaders of the state.”

Cole Saunders, a Geneva County High School graduate, says: “You see the group of students that got the scholarship, and they are outstanding in their community and schools. I was surprised to get it. It was as if the committee looked at me as on the same level as the others. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

ORU board president David Hall says this year’s applicants formed a strong and competitive group. He also says it pleases the ORU board to support the next generation of the workforce.

“The Bible encourages us to mentor and support younger generations in several passages, and that is a message ORU board members embrace,” Hall says. “This year’s applicants have accomplished so much at a young age. From presidents of high school clubs to volunteering at local hospitals, these youth have served vital roles in our communities.”

Those efforts will continue in various industries in years to come. Some recipients could fill major roles in the very industry that provided them a scholarship, like Trevor Kirkland, one of the lineworker scholarship awardees.

“Electricity has always been interesting to me,” says Kirkland, whose father is a lineman. “I love heights, I love working with my hands, and I love the atmosphere of working with a crew. The benefits of a lineman career are really great. This is such a great opportunity.”

Both Ashford High School graduate Clarie Aplin and Houston Academy graduate Addison Reynolds appreciate the ORU Foundation and the WEC members whose contributions make its work possible.

“A few years ago, I had no idea what the foundation did. It’s eye-opening to see how much this program does,” Reynolds says.

“To think this comes from people rounding up their monthly bills is just amazing,” Aplin adds. “It’s making a big impact on so many people in the community. I’m so grateful I’m one of them.”

Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship

Each year Wiregrass Electric Cooperative partners with the Electric Cooperative Foundation to fund one scholarship in addition to the Operation Round Up awards. This year’s ECF scholarship winner is Jenna Goolsby of Florala High School.

Traditional Scholarship Winners

Wallace Community College Lineworker Scholarships