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AAERG and Project Mentor team up to provide school supplies

by on September 9, 2014
The stack of notebook paper collected during a school supplies collection drive was nearly as tall as organizers Coyla Black (left) and Shermetre Pollard (right).

The AEP African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) and AEP Project Mentor partnered to collect school supplies to provide to AEP Project Mentor schools Georgian Heights Alternative Elementary School, Starling Middle School and Yorktown Middle School in Columbus.

The school supplies collection drive, which took place July 14 through August 8, gathered wide-ruled notebook paper, crayons, pencils, pens, pocket folders, glue sticks, scissors, erasers and more. Supplies were delivered to the schools during the week of August 11.

Employees participated at AEP Headquarters and the Arena building in downtown Columbus; 700 Morrison Road and 850 Tech Center Drive in Gahanna; the Groveport Operations Center; the A. Ray King Transmission Training Center and the Columbia Center Transmission Service Center in Pataskala.

In addition to Coyla Black, project coordinator III, Transmission, who coordinated the initiative, employees who provided key support included Sagata Bhawani, Danya Bristol, John Cronin, Marketta Franklin, William Gardiner, Jodi Heck, Bianca Hill, Kim Hughes, Michelle Kinds, Jacquelyne Martin, Jacob Pearson, Shermetre Pollard, Nataria Scales, Barry Schumann, Charlisa Stirtmire and Kristen Thompson.

“This was a remarkable year for our back to school drive, as we received 10 times as many supplies this year compared with last year,” said Shermetre Pollard, regulatory analyst I and Chair of the AAERG. “We appreciate the employees who made this investment into our local community.”

Black was pleased as well. “I took on the role of Community Chair for the AAERG this year not realizing how much of an impact AEP truly makes in the community,” she said. “I’m honored to be a part of the AEP organization and its philanthropic endeavors. Next year, the goal is double!”

Each school received 17 medium-sized boxes of school supplies. In all, 6,124 pieces of supplies in 38 different categories were collected and tallied up in the effort, including 556 packages of pencils, 527 pocket folders, 331 packages of notebook paper and 145 packages of crayons. 

Jacquelyne Martin, IT manager, said one employee in particular made an extremely generous donation of supplies, consisting of many boxes. “We owe her a huge thank you,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone do this.”

The good feelings came not only from the joy of providing needed supplies. Bianca Hill, energy coordinator III, Market Operations Energy Supply, reported that while she was counting supplies while shopping, she was observed by a gentleman who asked about the effort, then spontaneously handed her a $20 bill as a donation. “There are still some good people in the world,” she said.

Shermetre Pollard and William Gardiner are shown with some of the school supplies collected, sorted and counted for delivery to three Columbus area schools.

The organizers thanked AEP Workplace Services employees for delivering supplies collected at various facilities to a central location for sorting and counting by AAERG members. Workplace Services then delivered the boxes of supplies to the schools.

Ron Brown, principal at Yorktown Middle School, reflected some of the excitement that the schools responded with upon receiving the supplies. “Thank you SOOOOOOO much for the donations,” he said. “Our kids and teachers were super excited to see all the materials and distribute them to the students. Our staff members have been using their own resources to cover such materials for the kids, and having such a fruitful donation from AEP was right on time.”

The principals at Starling and Georgian Heights also expressed great appreciation for the donated supplies.

AEP’s Project Mentor program arranges for volunteer mentors from AEP to visit these three and other schools during the school year to mentor students one-on-one, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Trained employee volunteers work with a BBBS coordinator at each school, and meet with students once a week during lunchtime or after school.

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