By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
Reprising the 2017 holiday program to “give the gift of electricity,” the customer service representatives (CSRs) at La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) once again invite community members to give a little to help a lot, and assist their friends and neighbors economically impacted by the 416 Fire in Durango.
“In spite of the most welcome rain we’ve received — and we hope we’re on the other side of the fire — Durango and the region are just beginning to realize the economic impact of the 416 Fire,” said Customer Service Supervisor Betsy Lovelace. “We don’t even yet know how many people have lost their jobs because of fire furloughs, tourism cancellations and reduction in people shopping locally. These are our impacted consumer-members who all of a sudden realize they can’t pay their electric bills.”
At LPEA’s Durango office, CSRs have decorated a new Power of Giving Tree, adorned with firefighting-related ornaments. Community members are invited to select an ornament and present it to the CSRs as their pledge. The dollar amount of their choice will be applied to the account of a fellow LPEA member challenged with paying their electric bill.
“Any amount is valued,” said CSR Julie McIntyre, who initiated the first holiday Giving Tree with her fellow team members. “Being on the front lines every day, we are aware of members who are in need. We’re concerned that it’s going to be tough for some people over the coming months. We at LPEA always want to try to do something to help.”
In addition to the Fire Power of Giving Tree, LPEA consumer-members can also make arrangements to assist specific individuals or businesses with their bills, as well as nonprofit organizations, by applying credit to their LPEA accounts. Contributions can be made anonymously.
“Any economic crisis in our community impacts those who have difficulty even meeting the most basic of necessities,” said Ron Meier, manager of engineering and member relations. “A few dollars here and there can keep the lights on for those who have lost their jobs as well as the businesses that are likely to have a tough nut to crack with the loss of income over these months. When our businesses suffer, it’s actually our people who suffer because of loss of jobs.”
To support and for additional information, contact LPEA at 247-5786 or visit www.lpea.coop.