By GRACE GADDY
A fairly new program of the Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative is giving customers a chance to pay their electric bill while also paying a helping hand to society.
Through Operation Round Up, customers can elect to "round up" their monthly bill to the next whole dollar amount to be contributed to a fund of the TVEC Charitable Foundation, which allocates to organizations serving community and family needs.
For example, a monthly bill of $75.68 would be rounded up to $76 — a 32 cent contribution from the member. That may not seem like much off the top, but when 59,000 members participate, those pennies add up quickly.
The program officially kicked off in April of last year, and Communications Coordinator Jeff Jordan said it's wonderful what they've been able to accomplish thus far.
“We've been able to assist a great number of charitable programs within the TVEC service area. Many if not all of the programs rely specifically on donations similar to what we've been able to give to keep operating — and they all seek to better the communities that we live in.”
While participation in the program is optional, he said over 92 percent of TVEC customers — or members, as Jordan calls them — do take part in the program.
“That comes out to about 59,000 members,” Jordan said, all contributing an average of 50 cents a month. And yearly, when “you multiply an average of 50 cents times 59,000 members times 12, that adds up in a hurry. That's the reason the program is able to help in such a magnitude.”
Locally for instance, the program made an impact by awarding $2,000 to every fire department within the TVEC service area.
“We range all the way from the Forney area in Kaufman all the way down to Elkhart,” Jordan noted. “That's 52 different fire departments.”
And in June of last year, the program awarded $3,000 to CASA of Trinity Valley, which provides volunteer advocates for children in the custody of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Anderson, Cherokee and Henderson counties.
Jordan said he wants to increase awareness of the program in Anderson County, since people can submit names of their organizations to be considered for funding — “just so people know that's available.”
Grant applications can be found by clicking the “Operation Round Up” tab on the TVEC website at www.tvec.net.
Jordan said he has received positive feedback from all sides of the program.
“From the board to management to members, we've heard so many great compliments about what the program has been able to do in its first year — less than a year actually. This is all possible because of the members who participate in this.”