Co-op grants benefit community

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:39 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A million dollars sure can make a difference in a community. Just ask the nonprofit groups and schools that have received grants from Boone Electric Cooperative over the past eight years.

The grants have helped pay for transportation for the elderly and people with disabilities, equipment for volunteer activities, a senior center and many other projects.

Boone Electric Cooperative, a nonprofit electric supplier in Boone, Audrain, Monroe and Callaway counties, has donated a total of $1 million to local charities since 1997, a feat that prompted the One Million Dollar Difference Celebration Tuesday.

“It’s relatively a short period of time for our members to put $1 million back into the community,” Roger Clark, general manager and chief executive officer for the cooperative, told a group of about 40 co-op members, government officials and representatives of the charities that received the grants.

Cindy Mustard, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center, said her organization has received more than $100,000 from the co-op over the past eight years.

“It’s truly making a difference in the community,” she said.

Jack Housted, a Mid-Missouri regional director for OATS, said an $11,000 donation helped his organization buy several buses. OATS provides transportation for elderly people and people with disabilities in Boone County and its nearby counties.

“These buses are still out on the road,” he said.

Spokeswoman Jessica Spencer said the electric cooperative started as a nonprofit organization in 1936 to serve rural areas. In 1997, co-op leaders decided to donate money to other nonprofits from unclaimed credit and Operation Round-up.

In the Operation Round-up program, members can choose to round up their electric bill to the next highest dollar amount each month, and the difference goes directly to the trust.

The organization has given about $100,000 per year to nonprofit groups and schools, including Oakland Junior High School, the Voluntary Action Center, the Oakland Senior Center, Centro Latino and many others.

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