Cooperatives help neighbors in need

Concern for community is ingrained in the culture of every cooperative – it’s the seventh cooperative principle. As such, Great River Energy gives back to the communities where we live and serve.

Great River Energy empowers employees to help in communities we live in and serve. Employees regularly rally their peers to raise funds or dedicate time to important causes. Over time, that culture of community adds up to a meaningful and lasting impact.

We celebrated 10 years of membership in the Minnesota Keystone Program, which promotes corporate philanthropy by acknowledging and honoring companies that donate at least 2% of their pre-tax earnings to charitable organizations. The program’s purpose is to sustain Minnesota’s spirit of generosity and sense of community.

Employees guide community contributions

Great River Energy supports two, employee-led contributions teams. Each team – one in Minnesota and one in North Dakota – includes employees from various departments and facilities and meets quarterly to review requests submitted by nonprofit and community groups. Both use the same guidelines to make funding decisions.

The Minnesota team focuses on the areas served by our 28 member. In North Dakota, our contributions are focused on communities within Oliver, McLean, Mercer and Stutsman counties. Typical awarded contributions range from $500 to $2,500 per recipient.

Organizations like Boys & Girls clubs, animal rescues, food pantries, community foundations and public libraries, fire departments and veterans groups have received dollars from Great River Energy’s contributions teams.

Giving and serving throughout the year

Great River Energy exemplifies the concern for community cooperative principle, in part, by encouraging employees to participate in volunteer opportunities and provides paid volunteer hours to do just that. Eligible employees used more than 1,200 paid volunteer hours in 2019. Additionally, a group of employees also dedicated 552 hours of volunteer time to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity in Hugo, Minnesota.

A week in June is dedicated to employee volunteerism

Employees proudly represented Great River Energy at several nonprofit organizations in June 2019 as part of the cooperative’s third-annual Week of Service. The volunteer event had employees rolling up their sleeves and lending hand in Minnesota and North Dakota communities.

Volunteers in Minnesota cleaned the visitor center and weeded gardens at the historic Oliver Kelley Farm; beautified the grounds at the Guardian Angels Care Center for senior citizens; packed 180 food kits, 160 fruit bags and assembled 8,000 mailers for the supplemental summer food program at the Community Aid Elk River Food Shelf; bathed animals, cleaned and organized the rescue center, and assembled adoption packets at Happy Tails Rescue; and made more than 500 sandwiches for homeless shelters and low-income food shelves with The Sandwich Project.

North Dakota employees were busy at several volunteer activities as well. They picked up litter along Highways 83 and 62; cleaned facilities at Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue; prepared and served meals at the Soup Café; spruced up the Underwood Pioneer Park and Underwood Veterans Park; and donated blood.

Between Minnesota and North Dakota, 98 employees donated more than 300 hours of their time to local communities – and saved up to 96 lives through blood donations during this week of service.

Community Giving Campaign

Employees once again demonstrated their generosity and compassion for supporting local communities through payroll contributions, blood donations, raffles and other fundraising activities during Great River Energy’s Community Giving Campaign. A total of $99,106, including a $40,000 company match, was raised for local organizations in late 2019.

Both Minnesota and North Dakota employees donated 23 units each to their respective blood centers, resulting in a first-ever blood donation border battle tie. But, as always, the real winners are the 140 lives who will benefit from their generosity.

More than 1,700 pounds of food, $360 in cash and an additional 2,000 food items provided much-needed food in the cupboard and on the plates of families in North Dakota and Minnesota. During Great River Energy’s company-wide food drive, held in autumn, employees donated items at their various work locations benefiting local organizations.

North Dakota employees brought some holiday cheer to families during the holiday season. In place of an annual toy drive, North Dakota employees contributed to a giving tree. Instead of ornaments, the holiday trees at Coal Creek Station, Spiritwood Station and the Bismarck office were decorated with tags that contained gift requests from local families who were unable to purchase gifts. Employees selected tags, purchased gifts and placed them underneath the tree.

Employees donated over more than 40 gifts for families in need. Underwood’s Santa’s Helpers, the Washburn Helping Hands and the Safe Shelter in Jamestown helped Great River Energy select the families who will receive the giving tree gifts this holiday season.

More than 250 deployed troops received care packages filled with snacks, entertainment and other essentials thanks to Great River Energy volunteers and their generosity. Some of those packages also included a letter of gratitude from an employee.

Care packages were assembled at an event hosted by the Maple Grove Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee. Volunteers included area residents, as well as Great River Energy employees and family members.

Military-focused volunteer events like these are part of Great River Energy’s support of the armed forced forces and veteran employees. Great River Energy was named a Yellow Ribbon Company in 2017 because of its support of veterans and company policies that support military employees.

Concrete donations support local communities

One unique, Great River Energy program continues to make a large community impact through the donation of concrete. More than 400 yards of concrete were donated in 2019, supporting 20 projects in 12 North Dakota communities.

The donations are valued at more than $66,000 and contain Coal Creek Station’s high-quality fly ash, which is used in place of Portland cement. These efforts directly benefit the communities receiving the donations while also reducing the environmental impact associated with producing standard concrete.