Choptank Electric Trust: Your Pennies at Work
Leveraging your Operation Round Up donations to deliver region-wide relief.
By Elizabeth Hallett, Manager of Marketing & Communications
Positive impact. That’s what the Choptank Electric Cooperative Trust Board tries to accomplish with the funds provided by Choptank Electric Cooperative members when their bills are “rounded up.” The Trust Board, which is affiliated with Choptank Electric Cooperative, proactively supported local communities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore during the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May.
Care Packs of Talbot County is just one of many Food Bank-supported locations that received funds from the Operation Round Up program to support their increase in needs during the COVID-19 crisis. “We were serving around 200-350 families a week, and now we are serving around 500 families a week,” said Emily Moody, co-founder and one of the volunteer coordinators for Care Packs of Talbot County.
“These types of monetary donations ensure we can buy wholesale food at a reasonable price, so we can feed as many families as possible,” said Megan Cook, co-founder and Volunteer Coordinator for Care Packs of Talbot County. “We began this program in April 2014 with 30 kids, and now we are averaging 400 kids per week and other families, and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers and the community efforts.”
With all donations to local food pantries in Kent, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester counties, along with private charities like St. Vincent de Paul, and Chesapeake Culinary Center/Friends of the Grape Inc., the total donated was over $15,000 for food support.
“When this pandemic began, we had to cancel our April Board meeting, but we just did not want to sit back and do nothing,” said Tom Terry, Vice Chair of the Choptank Electric Trust Board. “After I contacted board members, it was decided that due to the special circumstances, we could not follow the usual application process.” The Board decided to proactively join forces with the Maryland Food Bank of the Eastern Shore and other local volunteer groups to support and ensure food distribution.
“The Trust Board took initiative to help those in desperate need and we are proud of the outcome,” said Jeff Rathell, Board Chairman of Choptank Electric Cooperative. “The members of the Trust Board exemplify the priorities of Choptank Electric and its commitment to our local communities.”
The donated funds are expected to feed over 5,000 families. With an average family size of four, that means over 20,000 people on the Eastern Shore have a level of food security while the economy gets back on track.
“To be able to impact more than 5,000 families with this donation is incredible,” said Terry. “This makes you realize how just a little bit of help can be leveraged to positively affect so many.”
The Operation Round Up Program, which is operated as the non-profit Choptank Electric Cooperative Trust, Inc., began in 2004, as an easy way for members to make a difference in our local communities. For as little as a few cents every month, members contribute funds for local charities, needy individuals, and service organizations. The Trust Board has contributed more than $4 million to our communities over the last 16 years.
Funded by contributions from participating co-op members by “rounding up” their monthly electricity bills, the average member donates roughly $6 per year.
“I want to thank every member who participates in Operation Round Up,” said Mike Malandro, President and CEO of Choptank Electric. “With your generous donations every month, the Trust Board supports many families and organizations here on the Eastern Shore. At 95% participation, Choptank Electric Co-op members are a very generous group of people.”
A Message from Tom Terry, Vice Chair of the Choptank Electric Trust
The Choptank Electric Cooperative Trust, which manages the funds from the Choptank Electric Round Up Program, fashioned a consortium of nonprofit organizations across the region to respond to the pandemic. Members of the Trust Board communicated with nine local nonprofit organizations, and the Maryland Food Bank, to financially support, organize, and distribute food to approximately 5,000 families across the Choptank service area. This project included food distributions at 14 different geographically disbursed locations in May and June where families could come and receive much-needed support.
This was an exciting time for the Trust where it could, in a special way, leverage Choptank Electric member Round-Up donations to work with other nonprofit organizations to focus on a region-wide major project to meet a critical need for our communities and families.