Co-op focuses on community year-round

The end of the year is a time for reflection.

For Great River Energy, that means looking back and taking stock of all the ways it upheld the founding principles of what it means to be a cooperative, including “concern for community.” The world needed to adjust and adapt for another year due to the pandemic, creating an even greater need to help the communities where Great River Energy operates and serves.

The following are ways Great River Energy and its employees were able to give back in 2021.

Employees donate food, supplies

Food pantry organizers were happy to receive fresh produce, among other pantry staples, from Great River Energy employees this holiday season.

One of Great River Energy’s longest-running traditions is providing all its employees with a holiday turkey made available for pick-up at facilities where employees work. Turkeys that go unclaimed are then donated to food shelves to help local families complete their holiday meals.

A total of 2,723 pounds of turkey were donated by Great River Energy employees this season to five organizations in North Dakota and three in Minnesota. In addition, North Dakota employees filled 75 Thanksgiving baskets for the food pantries there.

Another way that employees supported families this year was through a supply drive hosted by Great River Energy’s Veterans Employee Resource Group (ERG). This group of veteran employees teamed up with the City of Maple Grove Beyond the Yellow Ribbon to collect donations to prepare care packages for troops deployed overseas in recognition of Veterans Day and the holiday season. Gratitude cards expressing thanks and appreciation were also collected.

“A care package is a great way to show a commitment to and support of our military members and their families. Those who serve overseas long for a connection back to home,” said Joe Griffitts, technical analyst II at Great River Energy and Veterans ERG leader. “These care packages help them feel they are not forgotten and give them a taste of home.”

Annual giving campaign raises $91,000 for nonprofits
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Great River Energy’s annual Community Giving Campaign is an opportunity for employees to show support for local communities and organizations by contributing funds via payroll deductions, bidding on auction items and purchasing raffle tickets.

While this year’s event was held completely virtual, employees again demonstrated their generosity and compassion as in years past by raising approximately $50,000 for nonprofits. When you add Great River Energy’s company match of $40,000, a total of $90,927 was distributed to 11 nonprofits in Minnesota and North Dakota, including food banks, veterans’ funds and social services organizations.

Contributions aid local nonprofits
A year-round giving effort led by Great River Energy is its two corporate contributions teams, one in North Dakota and the other in Minnesota. Both teams consider requests on a quarterly basis from nonprofit organizations located in the areas where Great River Energy has member-owner cooperatives or employees. Funds are provided to nonprofits that do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of member-consumers, as well as communities where the cooperative owns facilities.

Great River Energy recently donated a 2012 Chevy suburban to the Garrison Food Pantry. Those at the presentation included, from left: Tribal Coordinator Jodell Fox, Garrison Food Pantry; Treasurer Sonja Moe, Garrison Food Pantry; and John Bauer and Lyndon Anderson, Great River Energy.

Between the two teams, more than $220,000 was invested by Great River Energy in 2021 into local community organizations focused on providing critical social services, youth-based developmental programming — including those that emphasize children and at-risk teens — and initiatives that promote environmental stewardship.

Truck donation
To round out a year’s worth of contributions to the communities it serves and where it operates, Great River Energy donated a 2012 Chevy Suburban to the Garrison Food Pantry in North Dakota. The truck was filled with groceries and supplies purchased by employees at the cooperative’s Coal Creek Station and Bismarck locations.

Each year, Great River Energy refreshes its vehicle fleet and determines the best uses for those that are ready to be taken out of rotation. This often presents an opportunity to give back to the communities surrounding the cooperative’s facilities.

Garrison Food Pantry board members had been using their personal vehicles to run errands for the organization, requiring many smaller trips to the store. The donated vehicle will now be used to help pick up food and make deliveries to those who are unable to travel to the pantry for supplies.