To celebrate National Volunteer Month, we spoke with AEP Ohio team members to hear how they give back to the community. Read more below:
When it’s time to sit down for a Thanksgiving meal, Jennifer Wilfong does her best to make sure as many people as possible have one.
The mission started back in 2016 when the AEP Ohio customer service representative was part of an employee group dedicated to finding new ways to support local communities. Jennifer then helped develop a plan to get holiday meals to families in Athens County, spearheading employee donations, coordinating with Kroger for meals and the Athens County Food Pantry for a list of recipients.
“It makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and I know that’s so cliché but it really is true,” said Jennifer. “It’s satisfying to give back to people who are food insecure. Without this meal, sometimes these families would not have any food for Thanksgiving. It elevates the ‘thankful’ in the holiday.”
The 14-year employee’s holiday spirit doesn’t end there. She’s also a bell ringer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. And with her AEP Ohio team at the Athens Service Center, she’s helped collect jars of peanut butter and jelly to donate to Athens County Children Services’ annual summer drive; collected coats and volunteered at a local kids’ festival.
Jennifer credits her grandfather for instilling a love for community giving. He was a clown for the Parkersburg Clown Club, and as a preteen she would join “Grampus” to volunteer at hospitals, making balloon animals and passing out candy.
“It was a nice, fun thing to do with my grandfather,” Jennifer explained. “I was really shy then, and felt more comfortable with my face painted because no one knew who I was. If you can find something that you really love to do that’s your passion, give back. It really makes a difference.
Now, Jennifer isn’t shy to talk about what a great feeling it is to lend a hand. She instills that sentiment in her children, who often come with her for those Thanksgiving meal deliveries.
“They get to see how grateful people are when you give back to them. It’s important to expose my children to that so they learn this life is not just about getting what you can while you’re going through your journey, it’s about helping other people as well.”