MOORE HAVEN — This holiday season Operation Round Up (ORU) is spreading cheer throughout the Heartland for all ages — from infants to seniors. Through Operation Round Up (ORU), Glades Electric Cooperative (GEC) members granted $9,000 to support people in need in Glades, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties. Those funds will provide gifts for children at Christmas, baskets for seniors in need of food, safe places for infants to sleep, and car seats for children.
Members contribute to ORU by electing to round up their monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar. Funds are then distributed to local non-profits and individuals in need by the Glades Electric Charitable Trust (GECT) through an application process.
Marine Toys for Tots received $2,500 to purchase toys for children in Glades and Hendry counties. Since the organization can buy toys at wholesale prices, these funds will make Christmas brighter for approximately 250 children, from infants all the way to 18-year-olds.
“We want to give good toys we can feel good about giving to children in need,” Joe Hosick, coordinator for Toys for Tots, said. The Heartland is an area with great economic need. “Over 90% of kids that get toys also get free lunch.” Families apply to be a part of the Toys for Tots program, and they are approved based on their financial need.
NU-HOPE Elder Care Services received $3,000 to buy food for seniors in need. NU-HOPE staff and volunteers will fill at least 100 baskets with food from the grant. The need for food assistance is dire in Highlands County. Debbie Slade, executive director of NU-HOPE, once had an elderly person call her on the phone and say, “I’m going hungry.” Thanks to funds from ORU, seniors who might otherwise have empty pantries will celebrate Christmas with full stomachs.
Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition will use the $3,500 it received from ORU funds to purchase car seats and pack and plays, or portable cribs, for families with low incomes. This grant will supply these needed items throughout the year. Families with limited square footage may struggle to find enough room for a traditional crib, so a pack and play is a good option for them, according to Pam Duenas, community liaison for Healthy Start. Infants need to sleep alone on their backs to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, and these pack and plays provide a safe place for infants to sleep by themselves.
“When each member gives just a little change back with their electric bill, we are able to make big impacts in our communities,” GECT Vice Chairman Dave McCadam said. “What may seem like a small contribution can provide a helping hand to many of our neighbors in need.”
Members who want to become a part of ORU can enroll through GEC’s SmartHub app. After all, a little change can change the lives of people in need in our community.