Like many cooperatives across the country, Wheatland Electric operates according to the same set of seven core principles and values. One of those seven principles — Concern for Community — has never been more important than now. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted our lives, our livelihoods and the local economies where we live, work and send our children to school.
In the wake of the disruption, hardship and uncertainty, we’ve been searching for creative ways to make the communities we serve — and the people who live within them — a little brighter and a little safer.
This is at the core of our #PowerOn campaign. As we navigate through the pandemic and the strain it’s caused to so many facets of our lives, we must work together to stay positive, to support one another and ultimately overcome the challenges we face collectively.
At Wheatland, we know that our most critical needs are a sufficient supply of safe drinking water and food.
Helping our members who are experiencing food insecurities or hunger has been one of our primary goals through our #PowerOn campaign.
To that end, we’ve partnered with 10 local food banks to donate over $9,000 toward replenishing food pantries across our service territories.
Cram the Van Gets a Jump-start
Due to COVID-19, Wheatland decided to start our first round of donations for our annual Cram the Van food drive in the spring and a second round this summer.
In total, donations of $9,100 were made to the following organizations to assist with their pantry needs: Hamilton County Food Pantry in Syracuse, Caldwell Community Food Bank and United Methodist Food Bank in Caldwell, Genesis Family Health in Garden City, Community Food Bank of Barton County in Great Bend, Greeley County Food Bank in Tribune, Harper Mission Mart in Harper, Wichita County Food Bank in Leoti, Hope’s Closet in Scott City, Horns for Hope c/o USD 363 in Holcomb, and Emmaus House in Garden City.
Keeping Communities Safe and Supplied
In early spring, Wheatland provided 700 bottles of hand cleanser to all first responders across our service territories, thanks to the Boot Hill Distillery in Dodge City.
Thanking these individuals who are working on the front lines during the pandemic, EMTs, law enforcement officials and firefighters, is the least we can do.
And helping keep them safe with tools and supplies to mitigate the spread of the disease helps keep our communities safer, too.
“We want to thank our local first responders for putting in the extra time to keep all of us healthy and safe,” said Manager of Member Services and Corporate Communications Alli Conine. “They put their lives on the front lines for us every day so we’re here to do our part to support and encourage them for all they do for us.”
Boosting Local Businesses
At Wheatland Electric, we continue to #PowerOn because collaboration and community are two primary elements of our cooperative principles.
These principles date back to the mid-19th century when the first modern cooperative was founded in Rochdale, England, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
And these principles are a key reason that electric cooperatives, like Wheatland, differ from other electric utilities, by putting the needs of our members first.
That includes our local businesses, which power the growth of our local economies, help fund our schools and employ our neighbors.
To support our local economy, Wheatland Electric purchased treats from small businesses in our service territories to supply to health professionals at our community hospitals and health centers. Co-op employees delivered the treats to: Scott County Hospital, Wichita County Health Center, Hamilton County Hospital, Greeley County Hospital, Great Bend Regional Hospital, Sumner County Hospital and Patterson Health Center.
“These workers who are on the front lines of the health pandemic deserve our support, appreciation, and praise every day, but especially now,” Conine added. “We’re here to help them power on through the pandemic and show them what their dedication to their professions means to our communities.”
Supporting Our Staff
To further stir local economic spending and support our small businesses, Wheatland also provided each employee with $50 in “Downtown Dollars/Chamber Bucks” to spend in their local communities.
Wheatland has even gone a step further to boost morale and show employee appreciation by starting milkshake Mondays and fan gear Fridays.
On Mondays, employees are treated to a dairy dish from a local ice cream vendor, and on Fridays we sport our favorite team apparel to remind ourselves that a return to normalcy is on the horizon. It’s one more way we #PowerOn. Together.
“Many of our employees dedicate their time to local organizations, some of which are the lifelines for their communities, and so we’re here to give back to them, too,” said CEO/General Manager Bruce W. Mueller. “We’re also here to keep our communities connected during this uncertain time. That’s one thing you can count on for certain.”
Wheatland Electric started its Cram the Van food drive early this year, making $500 donations to all 10 food banks we typically partner with each fall. A second round of donations was made to area food banks in the late summer, bringing the donation total to over $9,000!