Across the state, Illinois’ electric cooperatives have risen to the challenge of helping those in their service territories suffering in the wake of layoffs, closed schools, food insecurity and a limited supply of personal protective equipment.
Spoon River Electric Cooperative, Canton, used Operation Round-Up funds to donate $4,500 to nine local food pantries. Those pantries include Abingdon Community Food Bank, Cuba Food Pantry, 1st Baptist Church of Canton Food Pantry, Galesburg Rescue Mission Food Bank, Illini Bluffs Food Pantry, Knoxville Community Food Bank, Maquon Community Food Bank, the Salvation Army Canton Food Pantry and St. Mary’s of Canton Food Pantry.
The board of directors of Corn Belt Energy Corporation, Bloomington, approved a grant of $15,000 for the Feeding BN and Beyond program and a grant of $5,000 for the Starved Rock Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund as part of CoBank’s Sharing Success program. Cooperative lender CoBank increased the amount of its matching funds program in which partnering electric cooperatives may contribute. The increased amount allowed Corn Belt Energy and CoBank to provide relief to local communities served by Corn Belt Energy. The donated funds, managed by the United Way of McLean County, support school food program supplementation, grass roots efforts and create support for those disrupted by the pandemic. Grant monies awarded to the Starved Rock Community Foundation will support the Starved Rock Country COVID-19 Recovery Fund to help those directly impacted by COVID-19.
With many of its local students unable to access internet for remote learning, Illinois Electric Cooperative, Winchester, installed remote learning Wi-Fi hotspots. The co-op was approached by Jacksonville School District 177 after it recognized a need for students with limited access to broadband. The hotspots were set up free of charge and located in the Woodson and Murrayville parks.
EnerStar Electric Cooperative, Paris, had such a large turnout for its first drive-thru sack lunch giveaway on March 28 that it repeated the efforts three more times. Free sack lunches were handed out in Clarksville, Redmon and Hume.
McDonough Power Cooperative’s board of directors approved assisting McDonough County Health Department and Warren County Health Department with $2,500 each to help replenish personal protective equipment (PPE), which is in high demand due to the outbreak. The donations were made through McDonough Power Cooperative Cares Fund which is funded through the sale of scrap wire and metal no longer needed by the cooperative and by personal donations made by those affiliated with the organization.
Since 2002, Rock Energy Cooperative, Janesville, Wis., has returned 3 percent of member’s accumulated capital credits. This year, the board of directors increased the amount to 5 percent, resulting in an additional $830,000 being returned to members, in the hope it would provide financial help to members during these trying times.
Jo-Carroll Energy received $30,000 from the Northwest Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund for the co-op’s Neighbor to Neighbor Care program. The program works in tandem with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The grant will be used to assist members residing in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The Neighbor to Neighbor funds are administered for Jo-Carroll Energy by the respective area agencies serving each county.