Feed the Need

Wiregrass Electric provides helping hand during pandemic

Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation Board President David Hall, center, presents a check to the Geneva County Food Pantry. Representing the pantry were Pantry Treasurer James Shiver, left, and Pantry Director Robert Michaels.

Efforts like the Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation show how Wiregrass Electric Cooperative and its members support great causes. Nowhere was that support more obvious than through WEC’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.

After canceling its annual Montgomery Youth Tour banquet due to governmental guidance regarding large gatherings, WEC donated the food it had ordered to The Ark, which organizes a variety of residential and nonresidential ministries in downtown Dothan. Also, Operation Round Up Foundation provided $1,000 to both the Wiregrass Area Food Bank and the Geneva County Food Pantry ahead of higher demands for their services due to the virus’s impact.

“Wiregrass Electric Cooperative was founded by neighbors bonding together to support the greater good of the region, and that’s a mentality we want to emulate daily in our operations,” says Brad Kimbro, chief operating officer. “These donations reflect the heart of our employees and the heart of our members as evidenced by the 86% participation rate in Operation Round Up Foundation.”

A Needed Blessing

WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro, left, presents a $1,000 check from Operation Round Up to the Wiregrass Area Food Bank. Accepting on the food bank’s behalf were Director David Hanks, center, and Assistant Director Julie Gonzalez.

The annual Montgomery Youth Tour banquet celebrates the accomplishments and experiences of some of the area’s best high school juniors. As it became clear that the event needed to be canceled, though, WEC officials still ordered the banquet food — more than 80 plates’ worth.

The move supported a local business in the service industry, which experienced a slowdown during the pandemic. In turn, WEC donated the food to The Ark at a time when the ministry needed it most.

“It came at a good time for us,” says Jeff Peacock, The Ark’s executive director. “Due to the coronavirus, our thrift store sales had dropped by 75%, and those make up 60% of our budget. We were able to feed every person in our residential ministry.”

Peacock says WEC has supported The Ark’s ministry in various ways throughout the years. “Wiregrass Electric has been a huge supporter of The Ark,” he says. “We’re just thankful they thought of us.”

Stocking Up Supplies

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative donates several hot plates of food to The Ark, a ministry in downtown Dothan.

The Operation Round Up Foundation board’s approval of $1,000 in emergency contributions to the Wiregrass Area Food Bank based in Dothan and the Geneva County Food Pantry helped these organizations obtain an astounding amount of supplies.

Wiregrass Area Food Bank expected to purchase about 40,000 pounds of food with its donation.
At the Geneva County Food Pantry, director Robert Michaels says WEC’s contribution could significantly impact between 500 and 1,500 residents. The new program utilizes space at the Geneva County Farm Center once a month to pass out bags of food to needy families in the county.

At a recent donation event, families received between 90 and 100 pounds of food.

“It helps a lot to get us started,” Michaels says. “The more we can put into it, the more we can provide families.”