Through the AEP Ohio Promise program, which allows employees to direct funds toward organizations and causes they’re passionate about, a group in Chillicothe was able to donate money to the Pioneer Pantry for purchasing needed food and toiletry items.

According to Lacey Derexson, school services coordinator at the Pioneer Center, the funds helped purchase a giant wagon of nonperishable supplies that lasted nearly four weeks.

Additionally, as part of a demonstration series the school hosts for its students with developmental disabilities, several AEP Ohio employees visited the Pioneer School with a bucket truck and a digger derrick. Line mechanics showed how they set a utility pole and climb it. They also raised the bucket high into the air, which was especially impressive to the students.

“Oh it was really awesome,” Lacey said. “They thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen.”

Afterward, students and staff had an opportunity to examine the vehicles and take pictures. They also received some souvenirs including small hardhats, sunglasses, color-changing cups and small flashlights.

AEP Ohio’s involvement has extended beyond this most recent support. For example, the Pioneer Center holds a basket auction every year and our employees will often contribute. AEP Ohio’s 2021 contribution – a Hocking Hills basket that included gift cards, a s’more-making kits, lawn chairs and a bottle of wine – was the event’s highest-earning item. Lacey said our employees frequently make personal donations, too.

“They are amazing supporters our ours and we’re so appreciative of them,” she said.

About the Organization

The Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities, also known as the Pioneer Center, provides lifetime opportunities from birth through adulthood for people with developmental disabilities.

The Pioneer Pantry was founded in 2018 in order to provide supplementary food and toiletry assistance to Pioneer students. Many of their families struggle with food security, and 85 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

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