The Overton Power District (OPD) celebrated the beginning of a new school year with a special presentation that has become an annual tradition. Last week, district staffers presented checks totaling $2,527.13 to school officials in both the Virgin Valley and the Moapa Valley for use in local school programs. The funds came from the district’s Round Up for Education program.
“Of course, the district would love to take the credit for these donations, but we really can’t,” clarified OPD spokesman Keith Buchhalter. “The donations are not coming from power rates or any other OPD funds. We are just presenting these checks on behalf of that group of our customers who have voluntarily signed up for the Round Up For Education program.”
The Round Up program was instituted by the OPD Board of Directors in 2014. OPD customers can voluntarily opt in to the program and agree to round their power bills up to the nearest dollar each month. Each participant gets to choose which valley’s schools he/she wants the donations to support. Last year, the donations averaged out to a total of about $5.70 donated from each participant of the program. At the end of the year, OPD gathers up all of the spare change that has accumulated and presents it directly back to the schools.
Of course, taken one customer at a time, it isn’t really a lot of money – just pennies each month. But as more of the community gets involved, the dollars can really start to add up for the schools.
In Virgin Valley, there were a total of 182 participants signed up for the program. Their monthly small-change donations over the past year were accumulated into a check for $1,128.72. The check was presented to Virgin Valley High School Principal Cliff Hughes on Tuesday, August 29.
“We are grateful that OPD continues to do this program,” Hughes said last week. “And we appreciate those in the community who have signed up to participate.”
Hughes explained that the check is presented at the high school, but then the money is divided evenly between the four Virgin Valley schools. The funds are then categorized as Student Generated Funds, along with other money that comes in through student fundraisers and other community donations. Each school has a committee which determines how those funds should be spent at the school. But they are always spent directly on things to help students, Hughes said.
“There is a wide range of things, but it is really just whatever needs are there for the students,” Hughes said. “At the high school it might be things for our Homecoming celebration, like feeding the student body hot dogs or giving out t-shirts. Recently we had a dedication and renaming of our football stadium and we held a reception afterwards for students and parents. The money for that came out of Student Generated Funds.”
Hughes emphasized how important those funds are to running the school. “If not for those funds, many of those things just wouldn’t happen, or they would have to come out of the school’s budget money to cover them.”
While Hughes was tremendously appreciative of those who participate in Round Up For Education, he expressed a little regret that the idea hadn’t yet caught on more in the community. “As a percentage of our residents, there are still not a lot of people involved in it,” he said. “We penciled it out at one point and figured that if we had just half of the households in town signed up then it would be really substantial for each local school. As it is, though, we are truly grateful for every little bit.”
Round Up For Education is also available to Moapa Valley residents as well. Currently there are 230 participants signed up for the program in Moapa Valley. A check in the amount of $1,398.41 was presented to Moapa Valley High School Assistant Principal Pledger Solomon in Logandale on Wednesday, August 30.
“I think this is the biggest year so far for us,” Solomon said. “The proceeds from this program have greatly benefitted our athletic programs. We truly appreciate the support from the community participating in this program. And we are grateful to OPD for hosting it.”
OPD customers in Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley can opt in to the Round Up for Education program by making a call to their local OPD office. Customers can simply speak to an OPD customer service representative and request that they be enrolled in the program. At that point, they also choose which valley’s schools that their donation should benefit.
Virgin Valley customers can call the Mesquite office at 702-346-5710. Moapa Valley customers can enroll by calling the Overton office at 702-397-2512.