Revisiting the stuff that makes the holidays a little better for those in need

From left to right, with their impersonation of Santa's elves, are Briana Turner, Gerri Drummond, Willisha Williams, Karen Sparkman, Pam Bayyat, Roderick Gilliam, Brandi Scott and Bonita Raymond.

Stuff to be proud of: From left to right, with their impersonation of Santa’s elves, are Briana Turner, Gerri Drummond, Willisha Williams, Karen Sparkman, Pam Bayyat, Roderick Gilliam, Brandi Scott and Bonita Raymond.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, chances are you know all about the magic of stockings hung by the chimney with care. But exactly what’s inside those stockings that matters so much?

Just ask about 530 TECO team members – that’s how many people at the company volunteered to fill holiday stockings with things disadvantaged children and families want and need. (No chimneys required.)

As with so many other aspects of the holiday season, doing more to help those who have less has become a tradition at TECO. In partnership with The Salvation Army, we filled stockings with things like crayons, coloring books, bubbles, small paperback books and comics, children’s jewelry, small games and puzzles, grooming items and hair accessories, socks, small toys and more. That was just one effort: working with a the nonprofit Champions for Children, we donated even more holiday gifts. And many other teams at TECO contributed in other ways.

“We’re proud at TECO to be able help people in this community all year round, but it feels especially important during the holidays,” said Gerri Drummond, credit & collections coordinator. “You’re supposed to earn presents from Santa for being good; what if you’re good but your family can’t afford gifts? What could that mean to a child’s self-esteem? We can’t let children in homes with less money think they’re somehow not as worthwhile as children in more financially stable homes.”

She added, “Fortunately TECO is a company that goes the extra mile to help people who need it in a community that we’re proud to share with you.”

The numbers support Drummond. While we won’t have our final tally of volunteer hours TECO team members brought to the community until after the year is over, by November we’d logged well over 20,000 combined hours. And we’re carrying this momentum into 2018.

But for now, this holiday season moment, we realize that every positive thing anyone can do for someone who needs help is a good thing. As Drummond said, it’s important.

So while you shouldn’t expect us to show up in your chimney, we cherish the opportunity to bring our reliable power and natural gas to all the moments you cherish this holiday season. To your holiday lights, to your sizzling family meal, to the heat in your homes (or cool air conditioning, as it were).

And for everyone out there helping people, know that we cherish the light of hope that you bring to those in need, because it’s a drive that we share with you. Thank you for what you do, and thank you for being part of something good, something with value that can hopefully last far beyond the holiday season: stronger communities to all, and to all a good night.

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