Ranch near Ovando, Montana

Giving Back This Holiday Season

Posted: December 1, 2020
Mark Hayden
Mark Hayden, GM

The holidays have arrived and many of us are ready to greet 2021 with arms wide open. I think most will agree that 2020 was a year like no other – certainly in my lifetime. And while we’ve seen our share of challenges, I am heartened by the ways in which we have all joined together to make our community stronger.

Each year, Missoula Electric Cooperative (MEC), looks forward to donating to the Cherry Creek Media Guerilla Turkey Drive. This week-long event encourages the community to drop-off frozen turkeys and/or monetary donations, to help feed families in-need, across Western Montana. Donations are then delivered to dozens of organizations for distribution. These organizations include: The Missoula Food Bank, Darby Bread Box, Haven House in Hamilton, Pantry Partners in Stevensville, Mineral County Food Bank in Superior/St. Regis and Missoula Head Start.

This year, MEC decided we wanted to make a bigger impact than in years past. We teamed up with Cherry Creek Media to become the first-ever Title Sponsor for their 26th Annual Guerilla Turkey Drive! Our team was excited to set the bar higher… we held a company-wide silent auction to raise additional funds, promoted the event on social media, joined our radio-partners for on-air interviews, and encouraged others to join our efforts, by issuing challenges to community partners, like Blackfoot, Energy Partners and NorthWestern Energy.

In 2018, we donated 322 turkeys (4,029 lbs.) and in 2019, we donated 337 turkeys (4,790 lbs.). With the leadership of our Tree Trimming Crew, our 2020 efforts yielded just under 400 turkeys, or 6,072 pounds of turkey, which was donated to the Guerilla Turkey Drive. Knowing that the need for turkeys was greater than ever before, we were thrilled to play a part in bringing some holiday joy to families-in-need, across the region.

While this event happens around the holidays, MEC’s concern for community is a year-round effort. Because we are a co-op, volunteerism and giving back, are a part of who we are. MEC offers employees flexibility within their schedules to accommodate volunteer opportunities. We look at co-op volunteerism as an investment in our community and encourage our employees to offer their time and talents to charitable organizations and events throughout our service area.

Volunteerism is truly the gift that keeps on giving. While it’s often difficult to quantify the impact that volunteers have, I do know they make our corner of the world a better place. Many organizations depend on volunteers to fulfill their mission and meet deadlines. Volunteers spread joy and compassion through their efforts. Even assisting with the smallest tasks can make a big impact in the lives of people, animals and organizations in need. Typically, a big time commitment and/or special skills are not needed… just someone who cares.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to consider volunteering. Perhaps it’s simply taking your child to select another child’s name off of the “Angel Tree” at the mall and letting them shop for a gift, so another child will experience a bit of holiday magic, too. Or maybe it’s fostering a pet, so they won’t sit at the shelter, alone, over the holidays. No matter what you choose, your time, compassion and positive energy will be appreciated. In addition, you will receive a gift. Not only will you enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are helping, but you will likely make new friends, expand your social network, strengthen or expand your skills, and maybe, just maybe, that foster dog would become a permanent part of your family!

In the process, you will set an example for your friends and family, because your commitment will offer a powerful lesson. It will demonstrate how one person CAN make a big difference. So, this holiday season, consider starting a new tradition – one that does not need purchased, wrapped or mailed. Give the gift of your time and generosity.

Looking for a socially distant way to enjoy the holidays this year? Download our Holiday Light Scavenger Hunt for you to enjoy with your friends and family… and the best part?!

Drop off completed forms to our office before December 22nd and be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card! For a bonus entry, send us a photo of you on your hunt or enjoying a holiday tradition. Let the holiday hunt begin!