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Operation Round Up celebrates milestone

Operation Round Up hit a milestone last week.

The trust has now donated $500,000 in grants to local organizations.

During a celebration event on December 8, DeWayne Bisek, president of the Operation Round Up Trust board, said, "It's just fantastic. It's a wonderful feeling to be part of this program and we are indebted to all the members who are making a small contribution every month."

Operation Round Up is the community trust of local electric cooperative Runestone Electric Association (REA).

Each month, REA customers have the option to have their utility bill rounded up to the next dollar.

Approximately 8,600 REA members - about 65 percent - voluntarily participate in the Operation Round Up program.

It averages out to about $6 per year, per member, but it ends up being thousands of dollars that's given away quarterly.

"Pocket change can change lives," said, Jim Hultman, REA staff assistant. "Our members who allow us to round up their bills every month are doing more than they realize."

The Operation Round Up program distributes 94 percent of funds collected - less than 6 percent is spent on overhead costs. Most charitable organizations spend upwards of 30 to 40 percent on overhead.

Operation Round Up has given 1,052 grants to non-profit organizations in REA's service territory.

During the celebration event last week, representatives from several non-profit organizations spoke about how the grant money would be used to further their mission. Here's a sample:

• Osakis Post-Prom: Chad Silbernick said the money is used to provide activities in a fun, safe environment for prom-goers to hang out in.

• Brandon History Center: The money will be used to purchase file cabinets to store family history files.

• Evansville Community Park: Funds will help revamp the athletic complex at the park, including the addition of fencing, fill and turf management.

• Village Family Service Center: The family services agency will use the money for games to be used when helping children work through anger management and social skills development.

• Love Inc.: The volunteer-based service organization said there's a local need for vehicle repair funding and fuel vouchers.

Operation Round Up distributes grants in several categories: Community, Fire and First Responders, Youth Programs, Scholarships, Food Shelves and Senior Programs.

Follow Amy Chaffins on Twitter at @TheOsakisReview.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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