During the workday, they are the Walton EMC employees you know and trust to keep the electricity flowing. They are linemen, engineers, dispatchers, customer service representatives, tellers, accounting clerks and more. But when the holidays roll around, these cooperative employees also add a second job title: Santa’s elves.
The co-op’s 260 employees working at three locations throughout the 10-county service area are a constant source for good, serving local communities in a variety of capacities throughout the year. They embrace their commitment to service with even greater gusto during the holidays.
Here’s a look at some of the ways Walton EMC employees demonstrate the 7th cooperative principle, concern for community, to make the holidays brighter for others.
The holidays officially get underway in Walton County when the annual Monroe Christmas Parade rolls through downtown. Walton EMC employees do their part to help usher in the season by building a float for the holiday event.
“Our outside guys — linemen and others — are very involved in this project each year,” explains Kathy Ivie, Walton EMC’s youth and community specialist. “Designing and building a float gives them an opportunity to put their everyday skills to work in a creative way.”
A small space in the Monroe facility’s warehouse becomes the float-building workshop for a few days. Work begins just before Thanksgiving with employees and their families pitching in to complete construction and decorating.
On the day of the parade, Walton EMC employees accompany their creation, handing out candy and greeting those lined up along the streets. In all, about 75 people contribute to the project each year.
The Walton EMC elves have created some masterpieces in the past, and parade judges have taken note. Co-op entries have captured top honors several years.
This year’s employee-created float takes its place
in the parade lineup on Saturday, Dec. 6.
This year’s employee-created float takes its place in the parade lineup on Saturday, Dec. 6. To see how the co-op team will creatively address this year’s theme, be there when the parade rolls off at 6:30 p.m.
Keeping Santa’s secrets
Walton EMC’s elfish behavior also benefits some of the area’s financially struggling families. For more than 25 years, employee teams have provided toys and clothing for children, as well as food for families in need.
Using a list of names provided by FISH (Faith in Serving Humanity), employees at the Monroe and Snellville offices purchase gifts for children.
“We decorate a tree with ornaments, each bearing the name of a child,” Kathy said, explaining how participating employees “adopt” a child for the holidays.
In addition to gifts for children, co-op employees also provide a food box the entire family can enjoy.
“It has everything you need to prepare a Christmas dinner,” Kathy said.
Co-op employees provide gifts and food
to about 20 area families each year.
In all, co-op employees provide gifts and food to about 20 area families each year. Parents are invited to make a secret trip to a co-op office to pick up the donated gifts and food, so their children are often unaware of the cooperative elves that provided them.
“It’s a great feeling for us to be able to provide a little bit of holiday magic for the kids,” Kathy said.
Comforting the little ones
Employees in Walton EMC’s Watkinsville office let their best elf nature shine through in a slightly different way. They pool their dollars to buy gifts for patients in the pediatric unit of Watkinsville-Athens Regional Hospital.
Employees at Walton EMC’s Watkinsville office buy gifts for patients in the pediatric unit of Watkinsville-Athens Regional Hospital.
The 13 co-op linemen working out of the Watkinsville location pack and deliver gift bags filled with age-appropriate items to comfort the sick children. Newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit aren’t overlooked, either. They receive a stuffed animal and their parents receive a gift card.
“We’ve had parents chase us down in the hall to say thank you,” Kathy said about the patient gifts.
Walton EMC employee caring isn’t limited to the holidays. Employee groups are involved in a variety of charitable fundraisers as well as hands-on helping throughout the year.
Among these activities is FISH for Kids, a summer feeding program for children who are food insecure when school is not in session.
Small teams of co-op employees give up their lunch hour one day each week to pack 3,000 lunches. Then, drivers deliver them to Monroe-area neighborhoods where hungry children are always waiting.
“When I blow the horn, the kids just come running from everywhere,” Kathy said, describing the warm reception she receives as “the lunch lady.”
In 2019, Walton EMC employees provided volunteer assistance to five different organizations and agencies operating throughout the co-op’s service area. In addition, their fundraising efforts collected $124,000 to benefit organizations such as the Walton County Boys and Girls Club and Georgia 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer.
Walton EMC employees do their part to help usher in the season by building a float for the annual Monroe Christmas Parade. The float from 2018 is pictured here.
Walton EMC employees get in the Christmas spirit by participating in the Monroe Christmas Parade each year.