A banquet Thursday night at Broad River Electric Auditorium honored local charities and a visionary leader whose early morning idea has helped fund their causes.
Broad River Electric Cooperative and its philanthropic subsidiary Broad River Electric Charities celebrated the innovative program Operation Round Up, which rounds up the monthly bills of most of its members to the nearest dollar. The extra change is collected into a benevolent fund. Since 2011, the program has benefited dozens of local charities. Representatives of many of those organizations were in attendance.
“You take action to improve the quality of life to those in your communities,” Broad River Electric CEO Terry Mallard told them during his presentation. “You are taking seriously the concept of being an agent and instrument of change. For that we are thankful.”
Those in attendance had the opportunity to thank the person who created the Operation Round Up program, former Palmetto Electric Cooperative CEO Tom Upshaw. Palmetto Electric, which serves Hilton Head Island and parts of the adjacent mainland, launched Operation Round Up in 1989. Since then it has spread to cooperatives and other businesses across the nation and even into Canada and the United Kingdom.
Among South Carolina cooperatives, the program has donated over $38 million. The nationwide total, just among electric cooperative distributions, is estimated to be at least $250 million. Broad River Electric has donated over $700,000 to local charities through Operation Round Up.
“It was one of those four o’clock-in-the-morning-when-you-can’t-sleep ideas,” Upshaw explained. “I had no idea it would spread like it has.”
Upshaw, already a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, was presented an award from Broad River Electric Charities Thursday night in recognition of his visionary leadership and selfless legacy.
Barbara Whitney, Chair of the Broad River Electric Charities Board, opened the event by highlighting the impact Operation Round Up has on Upstate South Carolina communities.
Broad River Electric Charities, Inc. is a non-profit organization that quarterly disburses funds from Operation Round Up for charitable purposes in Cherokee, Spartanburg and Union Counties. The fund is managed by a 7-member governing board appointed by Broad River Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees. The Charities board consists of Daisy Lemmons and Nancy Jordan of Cherokee County, Jane Rhinehart and Barbara Whitney of Spartanburg, and Carolyn Belue and Carol Smith of Union. Terry Mallard is the ex-officio as CEO of Broad River Electric Cooperative.