Robinson employees donate bikes to local kids
Duke Energy’s Robinson Nuclear Plant employees are well known in the Darlington County area for their many volunteer efforts and generous support of community outreach programs. Their latest employee driven initiative exceeded their goals in record number, and was rolled out Thursday May 7th in the Darlington High School gym- the first donations of a bicycle donation drive.
When the Robinson employees first decided to embark on the bicycle donation project, their original goal of 45 bicycles, with a stretch goal of 75.
“Our employees just blew that out of the water,” said Charles Ellison, public information officer for Robinson. “They are incredibly generous, and we are lucky to work with such fine individuals. They take a lot of pride in being a position to give back to the community.”
The first goal was met, then the stretch goal, and still the money came in from the employees.Teresa Hodges, program specialist at the plant, was the coordinator of the initiative. She is also a long-time mentor with the Ambassador program at North Hartsville Elementary School, and has mentored many children in the program through the years.
“We started a bike fundraising campaign, and all the employees started to donate money,” said Hodges. “We told them that $100 would get them a bike and a helmet. So then, some of the work groups started challenging each other.”
After the challenge ended, the plant employees raised a whopping $16,000, enough to purchase 163 bikes and helmets for children of all ages.
“The employees were so excited,” continued Hodges. “They all are looking forward to seeing the pictures, and know the kids were happy. We purchased helmets, too, because we want the kids to be safe. We want them to get out to the outdoors, ride their bike, and be safe.”
Ellison said that many of the employees had special reasons for donating.
“I had several folks that stopped by and told me, ‘Hey, a bike was not something that my family could afford, and I really missed out on that experience.’ It really meant a lot to them to insure that a child that needs one, gets to have one.”
Bicycles will be distributed to several children at each school in Darlington County, Bishopville Primary, and the McBee schools. In addition, bicycles will be donated to children served by the Durant Center, the Boys and Girls Club, and to a few individual families nominated by employees.
“With the high school bikes, one of the really neat stories I’ve heard is that it’s not just for recreation for those kids, they are actually going to use them to bike to work over the summer.”
The bicycle drive will be a new annual project, said Ellison.
“Thank you so much,” said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of the Darlington County School District. “Not only for stepping up to the plate, but to double your goal is pretty amazing. We are impressed by the generosity of your employees to our public schools. I appreciate it.”
As students from representative schools found their bicycles, labeled with their name, the littlest ones donned their helmets and took their bicycles for a test spin.
Two little boys decided to name their bicycles – one Mongoose, the other Mohawk took turns on their new bicycles wearing quite “fierce” helmets, and took a few extra laps before getting coaxed off.
The girls were quick to race, too, even faster than the boys.
The middle school and high school students that were the first of their age group to receive their bicycles were a bit more reticent, and overwhelmed- as teenagers and pre-teens often are. Several hung around to thank Hodges directly, and she was quick to envelop them in an embrace.
Mobile users, please click gallery to view more photographs: Robinson Employee Bike Donation