Each year, Progress Energy encourages its employees to take part in giving back to the community. So far, they have donated more than $20,000 to charities that help communities in Richmond County.
The 2011 Employee Giving Campaign, where money is deducted from the payroll and given to local charitable organizations of the employees’ choice, contributed a total of $15,466 from the Richmond County Energy Complex pledge.
Another charity event that Progress Energy takes part in is the “Give Where You Live Campaign” in which the energy complex partnered with Backpack Pals for Richmond County. Teams were formed among the employees, 15 total with eight members each, and they collected food items and submitted cash donations for a total of $5,100; total cash donations were $3,740 and food items valued at $1,360. The employees brought food from their own pantries and cash from their own wallets in order to get ahead in the friendly competition and to feed hungry children.
Rev. Steve Crews coordinates the Backpack Pals, and was at Progress Energy to receive the money and food items on Tuesday.
“We certainly appreciate all you’ve done,” said Crews to the gathered teams. “It’s all about the children.”
The amount of money and food collected will sustain 17 children for a year. It took the teams five weeks to gather the food and money.
“Last year we did it for the shelter,” said Plant Manager Cecil Gurganus. “We had almost two tons of food. I have a really good group of employees here. They are really giving.”
Gurganus said the goal was for each team to collect enough to support one child for a year, but they exceeded the expectation with being able to feed 17 children. Crews said they try to stuff 430 backpacks a week with food to send home with children that the school system has identified as hungry. Crews said he does not get a list of names or know which children will get the food. He gets a number from the school system and tries to meet that need as a United Way agency.
Crews said different groups of people come out to help stuff backpacks, usually for an hour and always as volunteers; whether it’s Walmart employees, Boy Scouts or Progress Energy, he appreciates the help and so do the children.
Crews said he heard about a child who went to his principal and said, “Look at all this food I got! But I have one question. Can I give some to my little sister? She gets hungry sometimes.” And the principal responded, “Yes, you can share it with her.”
The story is an example of the need for the Backpack Pals program in the area.
Progress Energy will help the community again with a Day of Caring later, when employees will volunteer to pack bags of food throughout the school year.
— Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.