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By: Patti Rogers, Operation Round Up Coordinator Financial report by: Sara Thomas


OEC members make real change from spare change


“Neighbor helping neighbor” is the core pillar that underpins the


Operation Round Up® collects pennies, nickels and dimes from co-op members to create positive and lasting change in our communities.


rural electric cooperative movement, and OEC’s Operation Round Up® program is undoubtedly one of the most successful examples of community in action. Operation Round Up allows co-op members to round up their


monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. Each participating co-op member contributes less than $1 each month—$6 per year on average—to Operation Round Up. Te change—literally pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters at a time—is funneled into a special charitable fund and awarded in grants to worthwhile individuals and causes. All told, Operation Round Up has put nearly $3.5 million back into


the local communities since the program got underway 20 years ago. “I don’t think anybody at that time had any idea of the impact


Operation Round Up would make,” said Bob Usry, a trustee on OEC’s board who served on the OEC Foundation board for 13 years before his appointment to the co-op’s governing board. “It’s truly remarkable to think about the lives that have been touched, in so many different ways.” Te OEC Foundation, Inc., a separate entity from OEC with its own


board of directors (see page 7), is the trust in which Operation Round Up funds are placed. Tis board is made up of volunteers who consider grant requests and oversee distribution of Operation Round Up funds. Oftentimes, they get personally involved in projects. Usry recalls the difficult task of evaluating the first set of grant requests. “Te bylaws prohibited us from paying utility bills or making political contributions. Te otherwise open slate might sound


easy, but it wasn’t. Te weight of accountability to the co-op members was heavy on our minds, and would be—is—key to the program’s success,” he said. While the board set parameters and established practices to ensure


the money would go to good use, the freedom from standard red-tape also proved valuable. A few phone calls—which eventually gave way to


4 January 2013


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