Several I&M locations and groups continued their holiday traditions of giving to help people in need and spread holiday cheer, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Strictly following CDC guidelines, here are some ways the I&M family continued to put our customers and communities we serve as the heart in all we do, especially during this holiday season:
Plant employees again conducted its Christmas Angel program and adapted to the pandemic by “adopting” children attending Lincoln Hills preschool – and more. As a result of the kindness of the Rockport team: 19 children each received a warm winter coat, hat, gloves, an outfit, a book, shoes, socks and toys; a financial donation was made to a cancer patient; additional children and families were “adopted”; pet food and a supermarket gift card was presented to a woman who was recently released from the hospital and is on disability.
In addition, all of the “adopted” received food gift cards. Plus, the employees made financial donations to three different area food banks and to “Operation Santa,” which also helps provide food to families.
Muncie Service Center employees collected and donated a number of gifts for Toys for Tots, while Marion Service Center employees took up a collection for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
In Muncie, I&M again sponsored the Meridian Health Services’ “Holidays at Gresham” drive-through lights exhibit at the agency’s Suzanne Gresham Center, which allowed families to see an array of great light displays from the bubble of their vehicles. The exhibit set a record attendance this year; visitors are not charged a fee.
FORT WAYNE AREA:
I&M presented on behalf of the AEP Foundation a gift of $2,500 to support the Salvation Army’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign for its Angel Tree program. As part of the gift, I&M was the sponsor of the Salvation Army bell-ringing campaign on Dec. 23 – the eve of Christmas Eve. The $2,500 provided holiday gifts to 125 local children
In Fort Wayne, I&M helped brighten the season with the annual display of the historic Merry Christmas Wreath. Though the traditional Night of Lights event that typically draws hundreds of people to downtown Fort Wayne did not take place, the wreath was highlighted in a special Night of Lights TV show that included a message from Toby Thomas.
In addition, I&M was again a sponsor of the popular Festival of Gingerbread at Fort Wayne’s History Center, including “I&M Free Night”, when I&M covered the cost of admission for all attendees that evening. Those attending were required to reserve tickets in advance and were admitted in 15-minute intervals to enforce physical distancing. Leila Niblick received the Indiana Michigan Power Presenting Sponsor Award for her Gingerbread Log Cabin.
And I&M sponsored the Fantasy of Lights drive-through light display at Fort Wayne’s Franke Park. The exhibit is a major fundraiser for Blue Jacket, a non-profit agency that provides training and opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment.
INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER CENTER:
Employees based at IMPC, including members of the leadership team, donated gift $20 gift cards to 66 area teens through the Salvation Army Card-A-Teen program. The program is for youths ages 15 to 17 who are not eligible to receive clothing from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program or from Toys for Tots, but are from families with needs. Many of the teens work part-time jobs and/or help watch younger siblings to help their parents.
SOUTH BEND/ELKHART AREA:
I&M employees spent time “decking the walkways” at the Potawatomi Zoo for its “Gift of Lights” event. Community members were able to be physically distant and admire the light displays
The Downtown South Bend Tree Lighting was also sponsored efficiently by I&M. The number of those in attendance was limited this year to allow for physical distancing and safety. The event was also streamed live on social media.
I&M was also a sponsor for the St. Joseph County 4-H Fair Drive-Thru Light Display. This event allows folks to safely see holiday displays from the safety of their vehicles.
The AEP Foundation, on behalf of Indiana Michigan Power, was able to spread donations to several area non-profits this holiday season. More than $16,000 was given to: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, The Elkhart Salvation Army, The United Way of Elkhart County and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana to address housing and food needs for our neighbors and community members.
Year-end giving will also help the Southwestern Michigan communities we serve. The AEP Foundation, on behalf of Indiana Michigan Power, donated $26,000 to area non-profits to help stock local food pantries and assist with housing needs. Donations went to The United Way of St. Joseph County, The United Way of Southwest Michigan, The Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency’s Stuff-a-Truck event, The Salvation Army of Benton Harbor, Outside of Sunday Ministries, Redbud Area Ministries and Helping Hands of Cass County.
I&M was also a sponsor of Christmas in Cassopolis. The event was changed from a tree lighting to a “cruise” by the new municipal complex and the log cabin, where people could safely see light displays and were given a gift as they drove through. Several gift cards to local businesses were included in the gift bags.
COOK NUCLEAR PLANT:
Employees at the Cook Nuclear Plant answered the call for unwrapped toys and books for “Toys for Tots.” It’s estimated the plant doubled last year’s donation, despite the number of employees working remotely.
All nine primary donation boxes were filled, and more than $3,000 in cash donations were received. Being mindful of the impact of the pandemic, a majority of the cash donations were used to buy gifts from Southwestern Michigan businesses.