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SRE Gives Back With the Help of Co-Op Members and Operation Round Up.

It’s almost impossible to escape the feeling of helplessness when all the news feeds are filled with stories about how COVID-19 is destroying lives, our economy and our way of life. Thankfully, many EMCs, including Southern Rivers Energy, are finding ways to brighten their communities without the flip of a light switch.

At a special called meeting of the Southern Rivers Energy Trust Board on April 16, the board awarded $22,000 in emergency funding to five area food pantries to help their communities weather the pandemic.

“The shutdown happened so quickly. The school systems thought it would just be for a week and then everything snowballed,” says SRE’s Erin Cook. “Families are hurting. Parents are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills. Our food pantries are running out of food and facing the excruciating task of turning people away hungry.”

Debbie Nelson with Citizens for Action for Meriwether County took things a step further and reached out to fellow food pantry grant recipients about an opportunity to purchase a truckload of frozen chicken. “We are just so incredibly thankful for Southern Rivers Energy and the Operation Round Up program. When they reached out about this grant opportunity, they didn’t light a spark, they lit a fire, and our community is coming together to make this food pantry a reality for our needy families,” Nelson says.

“During the COVID-19 crisis, it is important that we work together to meet the needs of our communities, and thanks to the generosity of our participating members, the Southern Rivers Energy Trust is able to help nonprofits who are working to fill those voids during these unprecedented times,” Cook adds.

Christ United Methodist Church Forsyth, Monroe County: Received $5,000—$4,000 toward food purchase and $1,000 for storage and equipment to aid with its food pantry ministry. Christ United Methodist Church has led an outreach ministry food distribution program for many years, thanks to the partnerships with Circle of Care and Forsyth and the Middle Georgia Food Bank. The ministry distributes packages of food to residents of Monroe County on the third Wednesday of each month. With this ORU grant, the ministry hopes to add support for smaller food pantries and meet the growing needs of individuals in local communities. For more information visit, www.christumcforsyth.org/our-ministries/food-bank, or call Circle of Care at 478-994-4939.

Citizens for Action for Meriwether County, Meriwether County: Received $5,000 for food and food storage to help start and stock a new food pantry. Citizens for Action in Meriwether leads several projects and collaborates with groups to preserve the environment and promote growth and prosperity for residents of Meriwether County. The town of Lone Oak donated operating space for the new food pantry, and the Meriwether school system is working on helping with storage for immediate needs. For more information, email meriwetherstrong@hughes.net or follow them on Facebook at Meriwether Matters.

Food to Families, Upson County: Rush Ministries in Thomaston recently partnered with Feed the Children to purchase a tractor-trailer load of food and hygiene items to be delivered for distribution through its Food to Families ministry. They received $4,000 toward the purchase of the truck and related items. “We will take all necessary precautions by wearing masks and gloves, while setting up a drive-thru dissemination process to keep everyone safe in this season,” RUSH founder and CEO Marc Pritchett says. Learn more at www.rushministries.com/foodtofamilies.

Hope Tree Foundation Ministry, Lamar County: Received $4,000 from ORU to purchase food and other necessities for its food ministry. The Hope Tree Ministry is celebrating 13 years of serving Lamar County and surrounding areas. The ministry is devoted to feeding the communities thanks to the financial support from local churches, vendors and businesses. The center is located at 110 Carleeta St. in Barnesville and can be reached at 770-358-3127 or hopetree782@gmail.com.

“The demand for food and fuel assistance is high and our funds are depleted, but we are determined to fulfill the obligation as a local food bank that our community depends on. Thanks to the generosity of supporting entities like Southern Rivers Energy, we will be able to accomplish that mission,” says Hope Tree Ministry Founder and Chief Officer the Rev. Jimmy Fambro.

Pike County Assembly of God, Pike County: Received $4,000 to help fund its food pantry program. The church’s mission is to provide resources to families during times of need, while fostering the idea of helping individuals who ultimately will return to serve others. The food pantry is open every third Friday of the month at 9 a.m. Pike County Assembly of God is located at 4990 Highway 19 in Zebulon and can be reached at 770-567-1594.

Operation Round Up is a community grant program funded by Southern Rivers Energy members’ donations. Participating members voluntarily allow their monthly electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar or make a one-time donation with their utility payment. The volunteer SRE Trust Board is composed of SRE members and reviews and awards grants to organizations in the communities served by SRE. The Operation Round Up program puts into practice one of SRE’s core values: Commitment to community. To date, the trust has given back more than $1.3 million to its communities.

Application materials, funding guidelines and program information can be found at southernriversenergy.com.

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