Operation Round Up® is Walton EMC’s community service assistance program that enables customer-owners to raise money for local charities. The concept of Walton EMC making these contributions to the communities it serves is one on which electric cooperatives were built more than 75 years ago, of “neighbor helping neighbor.”
Customers can elect to have their electric bill “rounded up” to the next dollar. The extra money goes to a special fund that is administered by volunteering co-op members through the Walton EMC Trust. Since any administrative costs are absorbed by Walton EMC, 100 percent of the donations is used to make life better.
Walton EMC most recently paid out $220,671 to local charities and organizations in the service area. Unfortunately, the recipients of one of the latest donations were subsequently arrested this month and charged with racketeering, medical fraud and conspiracy to defraud the state. According to a press release from the Georgia Attorney Generals Office dated March 14, 2019, “Owner and operator of Wishes 4 Me Foundation, Inc., Jennifer Lynn Robinette and associates Tonya Joy Ward, Bethany Braga, and Ronnika Barton have been indicted in connection with a scheme to allegedly obtain money to which they were not entitled from both the Georgia Medicaid program and disabled adults.”
Robinette and Wishes 4 Me did receive $6,340 of the funding from Walton EMC’s latest Operation Round Up, but officials from Walton EMC are now looking into their legal options to rectify the situation.
“We take matters relating to our customer-owners’ money very seriously. In the 22 years that we’ve had the Operation Round Up program, I don’t recall anything like this ever happening,” said Greg Brooks, Walton EMC Community and Communications Director. “We’re presently consulting with our legal counsel to determine any options open to us and a course of action.”
The bulk of the funds from the recent Operation Round Up, however, went to many other local organizations. These include:
- Books for Keeps (Clarke) – $5,000
Books to low-income elementary students during the summer.
- C2IT Equine Therapy (DeKalb, Gwinnett, Morgan, Rockdale, Walton) – $7,500
Therapy for special needs clients.
- Georgia Transplant Foundation (entire territory) – $10,000
Financial assistance and education for transplant patients.
- Gwinnett County Masonic Association (Gwinnett) – $4,000
Christmas meal and gift cards for needy families.
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (entire territory) – $3,000
Travel assistance for cancer patients.
- Monroe Art Guild (Newton, Oconee, Rockdale, Walton) – $8,000
Art kits for children at trauma scenes.
- Northeast Georgia RESA (Barrow, Clarke, Greene, Morgan, Oconee, Walton) – $2,699.77
Laptops for deaf/hard of hearing services.
- Penfield Christian Homes (entire territory) – $10,000
Treatment for substance abuse.
- Prevent Child Abuse Athens (Barrow, Clarke, Oconee, Walton) – $2,000
Parent education, support and nurturing program.
- Walton County Helping Hands Club (Walton) – $5,000
Christmas gifts for needy children.
- Classic City Lions Club (Barrow, Clarke) – $1,429
Vision screening for children.
- Extra Special People (entire territory) – $7,500
Tuition help for program services.
- Interfaith Hospitality Network (entire territory) – $8,000
Services for the homeless.
- NG3 (Gwinnett, Walton) – $10,000
Expanding their high school athlete mentoring program.
- New Path 1010 (Barrow) – $2,000
Weekend meals for needy students.
- Oconee County 4-H (Oconee) – $8,140
Cloverleaf, Junior and Senior project achievement
- Rachel’s Gift (entire territory) – $2,000
Expanding assistance to parents who lose infants.
- YMCA (Clarke, Greene, Oconee, Walton) – $10,000
- Snacks for children in after-school programs.
- Eight families (entire service area) – $33,061.81
- American Red Cross, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, Judy House Ministries, Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, Place of Seven Springs (entire service area) – $75,000
Organizations that provide emergency shelter, food and medical care.