Concern for community shines during pandemic

The holiday season always serves as a time for reflection, gratitude and goodwill. While the past year brought with it many new challenges, Great River Energy and its employees pulled together to strengthen the communities the cooperative and its 28 member-owners serve.

As we prepare for a new year, let’s first look back to a few ways Great River Energy showcased the “concern for community” cooperative principle throughout 2020.

Co-op donates thousands of respirators, other PPE

Great River Energy donated N95 respirators and other safety equipment to help protect healthcare workers on the frontlines.

In the early stages of the pandemic when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-16 requiring certain business in Minnesota to submit a personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory, Great River Energy was already compiling a list of items to donate to healthcare workers.

“We regularly use N95 respirators and PPE during our workday and during outages,” said Dustin Privette, Great River Energy safety administrator. “Great River Energy kept the protective equipment employees need for those activities and donated the extra to help the healthcare workers on the frontlines. As a cooperative, we care about the communities where we live and serve, and we wanted to do our part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. We are all in this together.”

Coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Great River Energy donated 2,000 N95 respirators; 86 safety glasses; 200 disposable coveralls; and several face shields to the Salvation Army North in Roseville, Minnesota, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The donation totaled more than $5,500 worth of inventory.

Employees donate food, supplies

Great River Energy’s transmission division has an outreach team that consistently supports local

Transmission employees raised $1,520 for diapers, wipes and pet food, which they donated to Community Aid Elk River and Second Harvest North Central Food Bank in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

organizations. This year was no different as the team held a drive to provide pet food and diapers to Community Aid Elk River (CAER) and Second Harvest North Central Food Bank in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Through the transmission division’s generosity, the team raised $1,520.

“This drive was especially important to me. Thinking that parents don’t have basic needs such as diapers and wipes is hard to comprehend

for most of us,” said Victoria Ely, executive assistant at Great River Energy. “And, as a pet lover, thinking that a family may surrender a pet because they can’t afford pet food is heartbreaking. People often think of donating non-perishable items but may not think about diapers, wipes and pet food.”

Virtual Thanksgiving food drive benefits North Dakota communities

Great River Energy hosts food drives each year to help those who need a little assistance during the holiday season. Wanting to support the community while being conscious of COVID-19 concerns, North Dakota employees got creative and partnered with Krause’s Market for a virtual food drive.

Employees participated by going online, selecting food they wanted to donate and paying virtually. Krause’s employees then delivered the food to four area food pantries.

“By hosting our event virtually, we were able to continue this annual tradition of supporting our local communities and donating to those in need, while also following our pandemic guidelines,” said Anne Hansen, communications specialist at Great River Energy. “Best of all, we raised more than $1,300 worth of donations from employees for our local food pantries.

To make sure everyone’s Thanksgiving included all the trimmings, the North Dakota corporate contributions team also donated $25 coupons so families could purchase a turkey, fresh produce or other deli items. In addition, Spiritwood Station contributed over 300 items to the Jamestown Community Action Center.

Annual giving campaign raises $92,000 for nonprofits

​​​​​​​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, purchasing raffle tickets and participating in fundraising “games.” This year’s event went completely virtual, and employees once again demonstrated their generosity and compassion by raising over $50,000 for nonprofits. Added to Great River Energy’s company match of $40,000, a total of $92,288 was distributed to 13 nonprofits in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Donation made toward Meidinger Splash Park

The Meidinger Splash Park project is the result of a collaboration of Jamestown community leaders, including (left to right): Amy Walters, Two Rivers Activity Center facility manager; Dwaine Heinrich, mayor of Jamestown; Rachel Liechty, capital campaign co-chair; and Corey Riedinger and Jeff Comer of Great River Energy.

Great River Energy contributed $50,000 to Two Rivers Activity Center’s Building Community Campaign to construct the outdoor Meidinger Splash Park.

The park will include a locker room, three elevated water activity stations with four slides, multiple fountains and splash zones. There will also be a multi-use court for basketball and pickle ball as well as sand volleyball courts, bocce fields and a large green space.

“Great River Energy values its partnership with the community of Jamestown and looks forward to the addition of the Splash Park to provide recreational opportunities for local residents,” said John Bauer, director of North Dakota generation, Great River Energy.

The Splash Park will be part of the Two Rivers Activity Center, which is owned and operated by the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department. Construction is underway with plans to open in May 2021.