Operation Round Up helps those in need
People helping people is a rural way of life. That’s especially true when the chips are down and someone needs help getting back on their feet. Electric cooperatives have found a unique way to leverage the hundreds of thousands of members who want to support their neighbors during difficult times like the current pandemic.
It’s called Operation Round Up. The program lets members round up their electric bills to the next highest dollar amount, with the spare change going to a host of individuals and organizations whose needs cannot be met by existing charities.
The program was started in 1989 by South Carolina’s Palmetto Electric Cooperative, which serves some of the nation’s poorest members. It quickly spread across the country as an inexpensive way for members to make a difference.
It’s a small price to pay. The most it can cost in a given month is 99 cents, though it could be as little as a penny. The average round up is 45 cents, and most members will pay around $6 a year.
These nickles and dimes make a huge difference. Administered by separate charitable trusts, the funds have paid for wheelchair ramps, bought furniture for families after a house fire and replaced leaky roofs. Elsewhere, Operation Round Up has helped fund food pantries, provided meals for the elderly and paid for buddy backpack programs that send food home with students who would otherwise go hungry.
It has helped cash-strapped rural fire districts buy new equipment. At some Missouri electric co-ops, Operation Round Up helps rural youth go to college through scholarships. The money also has paid medical bills for families with sick kids. Best of all, these funds stay local so you know you are helping neighbors.
This year’s COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the need in rural areas. Since fundraisers have been canceled, Operation Round Up helps bridge the gap. If your electric cooperative takes part in the program, please consider joining if you haven’t already. Together we can do great things.