APSO back-to-school efforts aid students across the state

APSO back-to-school efforts aid students across the state

ABOVE: Parrish, AL – Over 500 backpacks and school supplies given to young students in Walker County, AL, at the Capstone Rural Health Center, Parrish, AL. TV media attending included James Spann, Brenda Ladun, with APSO volunteers, and Capstone employees.

Parrish, AL: Over 500 backpacks and school supplies given to young students in Walker County, AL, at the Capstone Rural Health Center, Parrish, AL. TV media attending include James Spann, Brenda LaDunn, with APSO volunteers, and Capstone employees.
TV media personalities attending included James Spann, Brenda Ladun, with APSO volunteers, and Capstone employees.

Marcy Brown’s life and her job rotate around the people of Parrish: She loves the rural community and, for years, has worked free of charge to help its residents. It could be said Brown’s service to Parrish is an “APSO byproduct.”

When the Gorgas Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) decided to help kick off a better school year for kids, it was natural they’d combine forces with Brown, chairman of the board at Capstone Rural Health Center. Sponsoring skeet shoots, Chic-fil-A sandwich sales and other fund raisers, members bought 500 backpacks for Walker County children. On Aug. 11, many Gorgas employees spent their evening filling the book bags with crayons, paper, folders and other supplies provided by Capstone.

Three days later, hundreds of children and parents were in line at 7 a.m. at the APSO information table at Capstone for a free backpack and a smile from Gorgas APSO members. Chapter President-elect James Brown and President Greg Miller were glad to help families at Capstone’s “Back2School Supplies Giveaway” and health fair.

“It’s about giving back – we’re not just all about ourselves,” said Marcy Brown, wife of James and a Gorgas APSO member for 15 years. “When you see the kids’ excitement, it’s worth everything. I’m happy when I’m volunteering,” added Brown, who’s freely given her leadership and administration talents to Capstone for seven years.

Giving more than backpacks

Many families came in for free health screenings and to enjoy music and free food. Attendees enjoyed vendor booths and door prizes, and meeting ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann and news anchor Brenda Ladun.

Keenly aware of the importance of having the proper equipment for the job, Barry APSO was eager to provide “Tools for Schools,” Chapter President Amanda Lofton said. In July, Administrative Specialist Cherie Gatlin and Lofton took two Wal-Mart shopping sprees, buying $1,500 in supplies: crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, notebooks, calculators, scissors and other items.

“We printed the supply lists for St. Mary’s Home, Dauphin Island Elementary, George Hall and North Mobile County Middle School,” noted Lofton, Power Generation analyst. After supplies were divided into equal portions, Maintenance Specialist Joe Giles, Gatlin and Lofton delivered them to the schools. In October, Barry APSO folks will help North Mobile County Middle School with its fall fundraiser.

Southeast/Farley APSO's Casey Camper, Denise Bellamy and Melissa Smallwood helped distribute nearly 2,300 backpacks for at-risk and low-income students at Columbus, Phenix City and Russell County schools.
Southeast/Farley APSO’s Casey Camper, Denise Bellamy and Melissa Smallwood helped distribute nearly 2,300 backpacks for at-risk and low-income students at Columbus, Phenix City and Russell County schools.

Southern Division APSO President Hailey McElroy said that members collected school for “Stuff the Bus,” an initiative to help Montgomery schools. Twenty APSO members brightened Bear Elementary School on Aug. 6, planting flowers and performing maintenance.

Members of Southeast/Farley Chapter joined several corporate sponsors in United Way’s Stuff the Bus project, helping distribute nearly 2,300 backpacks to meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students at Title 1 schools in Columbus, Phenix City and Russell County.

“It was very fulfilling to see the excited looks on the faces of teachers receiving the backpacks and supplies at the schools,” said Customer Service Representative Denise Bellamy. “They were so appreciative and many kept saying, ‘Thank You, you have no idea how much this will help. The children will be thrilled.’”

Eastern APSO is committed to assisting with educational efforts, said Chapter President Michael Magouyrk, with bins placed throughout the division so employees can donate school supplies. Eastern APSO bought gift cards for resource officers at several schools, allowing personnel to purchase supplies. Anniston city schools, with schools in Calhoun and Talladega counties, received donations from Eastern APSO.

Amanda Young, Customer Service representative and a member of Eastern APSO’s Pell City subchapter, chaired a donation drive for schools. Pell City employees gave $250, which was combined with $250 from Eastern APSO in support of Refuge Ministries in helping 28 eastern-area schools.

Amanda Young and numerous members of Eastern APSO’s Pell City subchapter provided supplies and donations to Refuge Ministries, which will help 28 schools.
Amanda Young and numerous members of Eastern APSO’s Pell City subchapter provided supplies and donations to Refuge Ministries, which will help 28 schools.

“Refuge Ministries partners with schools to give to children in need,” said Magouyrk, APSO Anniston Office manager. On Aug. 6, the chapter provided Refuge Ministries with sleeping mats, copier and construction paper, compasses, protractors and several other items.

Enriching educational experiences

A clean, attractive environment is conducive to students’ learning abilities, Gaston Financial Specialist Melissa Williamson believes. Gaston APSO members rolled up their sleeves for day of painting at Vincent Middle School, where employees painted the facility’s entrance. Gaston employees are again donating snacks and mini-meals for children assisted by the Backpack Buddies Program, in which school staff place food in backpacks of the underprivileged.

Miller Employee Development Coordinator Jamie Driver praised employees’ generosity during APSO’s annual back-to-school supply drive for copier paper, paper towels, pens, pencils and other supplies.

“We assisted Bagley Middle, West Jefferson Elementary and Brookville Elementary schools through these donations,” said Driver, past president – Miller APSO. The group also gave three large-screen TVs to Sumiton Middle School for expansion of the school’s technological curriculum.

Miller APSO supported Backyard Blessings, a nonprofit in Sumiton that ensures needy children don’t go hungry on weekends away from school. Run by Leneda Jones, the group provides food to schools, where less fortunate children are discreetly given a bag of food that will last them through the weekend. On Aug. 8, APSO members helped with Backyard Blessings movie night, in support of five Walker County schools.

“For youngsters, looking their best and being clean at school is just as important as having the needed school supplies,” Magic City APSO President Wells Cooner believes. Magic City APSO sent notices requesting employees’ help in providing personal hygiene items to kids in need.Throughout August, APSO had bins at locations around the company, where employees can leave floss, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hand sanitizer and lotion.

In September, APSO members will sort and stuff supplies for 1,000 student care packages for delivery to child advocacy centers in Birmingham and Shelby County.

Members of Southeast/Farley Chapter joined several corporate sponsors in United Way’s Stuff the Bus project, helping distribute nearly 2,300 backpacks to meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students at Title 1 schools in Columbus, Phenix City and Russell County.

“It was very fulfilling to see the excited looks on the faces of teachers receiving the backpacks and supplies at the schools,” said Customer Service Representative Denise Bellamy. “They were so appreciative and many kept saying, ‘Thank You, you have no idea how much this will help. The children will be thrilled.’”

This story was first published on Alabama NewsCenter.