When System Controller George Powell’s name was drawn to receive $500 to pay forward this September, he spent some time thinking about causes near and dear to his heart.
But before he could choose a charity, tragedy struck the South Carolina electric co-op family.
Timothy John “T.J.” Gardner, a lineman with Black River Electric Cooperative, was killed on the job after contacting energized equipment on September 12. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
George said, “Speaking as a former lineman, this tragedy could have happened to any of us. All of us have had close calls and old war stories. It is a dangerous profession.”
After learning of a statewide effort to raise funds to aid Gardner’s family, George knew exactly how to pay forward the money.
“If it were me, I would have greatly appreciated the brotherhood that linemen and all cooperative employees share and would rest easier knowing that people care enough to try to make this time a little more bearable for my family as they live through the devastating loss of a loved one,” George said.
George’s contribution will be combined with October’s Pay It Forward funds and will add to Laurens Electric’s employee fundraiser for the Gardener family, which has surpassed $12,000.
Electric cooperatives around the state are participating in corresponding efforts, with all donations being collected to make a major gift to support the education of Gardner’s two children.
To contribute, send checks to S.C. Cooperatives Care Foundation at 808 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce, SC 29033. Please indicate in the check’s subject line that the contribution is for the Gardners.
Laurens Electric’s Pay It Forward program began in 2015.
Every Laurens Electric Cooperative employee is entered into a random drawing to receive $500 to pay forward in any way they choose.
Each month a new name is drawn, and the employee then has one month to apply the funds toward their own act of kindness.
This initiative is budget-neutral; the funds come from Laurens Electric’s charity events, which employee volunteers make possible.