Glades Electric’s Operation Round Up Members Provide $16,500 for Five Student Programs

Posted: August 8, 2023 at 3:09 pm
Left to right: Our Village Okeechobee Executive Director Leah Suarez (left) with Our Village students and Glades Electric Charitable Trust board member Paula Byars (right) as students prepared school supplies for the Our Village Back to School Expo.

Thanks to Glades Electric Cooperative members, over $16,550 in Operation Round Up funds were awarded this summer to non-profits providing programs for students throughout Florida’s Heartland.

The Glades Electric Charitable Trust recently funded back to school preparation and student programs for five outstanding organizations. These organizations include Our Village Okeechobee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Ridge Area Arc, Florida Community Health Centers and the Mason G. Smoak Foundation. Each organization is working hard to develop the future generations of our communities.

Our Village Okeechobee received $5,000 for their 12th Annual Back to School Expo and New Teacher/Provider Fair. Our Village focuses on providing a blanket of spiritual, social, educational and cultural experiences for families in their community. The funds granted to Our Village purchased back to school supplies, new teacher items, computers and printers for use at Our Village, and other learning necessities to jump start a successful school year.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast was awarded $2,500 for their Bigs with Badges program in Highlands County. Mentors in this program are public servicemen and women who make a difference in children’s lives while creating a positive bond with authoritative figures.

“I am so proud of the deputies that take part in this program. We are building really productive relationships early in life,” said Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman.

Bigs with Badges mentors will provide each of their Littles with special tote bags containing educational materials, self-care items and a rewards program with snacks and prizes thanks to ORU funds.

Ridge Area Arc received $2,500 for their Project Search program. Project Search will give Ridge Area Arc’s senior students with disabilities the opportunity to intern at Advent Health Sebring to develop hands-on job skills and find jobs after graduation. ORU funds assisted with uniforms and curriculum books for program students.

Florida Community Health Centers received $3,000 for back to school supplies for students in Montura and students served at their Okeechobee facility. Each year FCHC supports more than 500 families to help children transition smoothly into the new school year.

The Mason G. Smoak Foundation was gifted $3,550 for their Youth Leadership Highlands Ambassadors program. The YLH Ambassadors program gives junior and senior level high school students throughout Highlands County the opportunity to dive deeper into their journey of strong leadership skill development through each year-long program. ORU funds will support programming expenses for students to visit local businesses to further expand their understanding of career opportunities in Highlands County, and meet with human resources professionals and business leaders to learn job application and hiring insights.

Glades Electric members who participate in ORU elect to round their monthly power bills up to the nearest dollar, averaging around $6 a year. All funds go to serve community members in need, and each small gift adds up to make a big impact in our communities. Local non-profit organizations and individuals in need can apply for grants and assistance. Applications are reviewed by the Glades Electric Charitable Trust board. Each board member works diligently to make sure the funds are distributed adequately to help our communities. The generosity of our members has a tremendous impact in our communities! Operation Round Up will continue to support our communities, but it can’t be done without the help of our compassionate members.

To share your small change and make a big change for others, sign up by filling out our short form at