The power to make a difference

SUMMERTIME IS officially here. Normally, by this time of year, our beautiful piece of South Carolina’s Lowcountry has been bustling with tourists for months. However, this year has looked a bit different due to COVID-19.

In the spring, businesses throughout our service area were forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, leading many laid off workers to seek financial assistance for the first time. When considering ideas of how we, as a cooperative, could help with the financial crisis caused by COVID-19, we reached out to local organizations that are familiar with the needs of our communities.

Sandy Gillis, executive director at Deep Well Project, located on Hilton Head Island, stated that since the pandemic began in mid-March, Deep Well has provided more than 1,800 families living on Hilton Head Island with a week’s worth of food supplies and 393 families with emergency rent and mortgage assistance.

Kimberly Hall, executive director at Bluffton Self Help, echoed Gillis’ words stating that since the pandemic began, the caseload at Bluffton Self Help has nearly matched last year’s total of about 1,000 people. And unfortunately, there are still needs to be met.

This is where the Give 5 campaign comes in. In early May, Palmetto Electric launched the Give 5 campaign, a voluntary initiative designed to help those in Hampton, Jasper and southern Beaufort counties faced with growing rent, mortgage, food, and utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

We asked you, our members, to consider pledging at least a $5 donation on your electric bill for one month to help fund this initiative. Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Operation Round Up both agreed to match the donation amounts, up to $50,000 each.

I am humbled by the outpouring of support that this program has received. On June 23, the funds raised were divided equally among four local non-profit agencies: Deep Well, Bluffton Self Help, Beaufort/Jasper Economic Opportunity Commission, and United Ministries of Hampton.

Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Operation Round Up presented these organizations with checks of $20,729 each, totaling $82,916. The funds will be distributed by the four organizations, based on the Give 5 guidelines.

The need has been real, and by simply giving $5, we have had the opportunity to help get our neighbors back on their feet and heal our community. When everyone does their part with a $5 donation, it is amazing how those small donations can multiply.

Again, I just want to thank each of you who joined with us in our “neighbors helping neighbors” effort. It is because of you and your generosity that we can make a difference in the lives of others.

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