“I think it’s important for everyone at some point in their life to go through this program. It’s absolutely fantastic!” exclaimed Laurel Caufield, Louisville Water’s Learning and Development Coordinator.
From repeat volunteers to first-timers…
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” shared Plumber Leader’s Assistant Jason Hutchinson.
For others, it’s become an annual tradition.
“I think this was a record year for us,” said Autumn Gibson, Supervisor of Water Quality and Compliance.
The spirit of giving back to the community is overflowing at Louisville Water this holiday season.
“It’s special to see everything going on and all these kids that are going to wake up and see this good stuff on Christmas,” Metering Specialist Clarence Collins said. “It’s really special.”
Collins led the Louisville Water Service Board’s project this year to support the Salvation Army Angel Tree. This is the second year the Board recruited employees to adopt an Angel and/or volunteer their time to help make the Angel Tree successful.
“It definitely takes a village to pull this off,” Director of Volunteer Services Trevor Huffman told Louisville Water. This was his first year organizing the campaign for the local Salvation Army chapter. “We are grateful for all of our volunteers whether they’re individuals, whether they come as friends, as family, as companies, as organizations in the community; we could not do this without the amazing support of our volunteers.”
Employees at Louisville Water’s treatment plants team up every year to adopt families at Field Elementary. Field holds a special place in the heart of Crescent Hill Treatment Plant employees. It’s clear to see the feeling is mutual just by looking at the drinking cups that form Louisville Water’s “W” logo inside the fence separating the two properties.
“It’s all about giving what you can. Just a little bit goes a long way. We have some people who are extremely generous and some people who give what they can. A little bit helps,” said Plant Maintenance Mechanic Clayton Reesor.
This year, employees collected enough money to adopt three families. Fellow Plant Maintenance Mechanic Lee Lorimor gets to be an elf of sorts.
“We’ve done the shopping the last two or three years. My wife enjoys it. I push the cart. She gets all the stuff.” Lorimor admits it’s a little more challenging now that his own kids are older. “We’re shopping for these little kids. I don’t know what’s cool anymore. We had one girl who likes to bake. ‘Does she like to bake in a big oven with her mom?’ So we got an Easy-Bake Oven.”
Back at the Salvation Army, Hutchinson helped check the Angel Tree bags to make sure each child had the right sizes and the minimum donation requirements. He was moved seeing the generosity up close for the first time.
“Seeing how many people go out and get the things, they can spend the money because they have it and can do it. It’s awesome.”
Caufield echoed those sentiments.
“I thought it was so amazing to see how our community can come together to help others in need,” she said.
Whether they gave their time or money, every volunteer felt rewarded in return.
“I remember my Christmases as a kid, waking up and seeing the Christmas tree full of presents underneath. Being able to give that to other kids is really meaningful for me.”
Collins is grateful he has the opportunity to return the favor to Salvation Army. Collins says while his father-in-law was incarcerated, the Angel Tree program helped fulfill his own children’s Christmas wishes.
“A church in my neighborhood gave my kids toys for his Angel Tree. That was why it’s always been a special part of my life,” Collins explained.
During his 11 years at Field Elementary, Family Resource Coordinator Kevin Knochenmus has witnessed the joy of countless families on the receiving end.
“It’s relief. They’re very happy. Very, very grateful. When you have those families that really need something come up (to you), and you know you have a community partner that’s right in your backyard that you can rely on.”
It’s a feeling not lost on Louisville Water President & CEO Spencer Bruce.
“I’m proud of the giving spirit that Louisville Water and our employees share year-round, but it shines a little brighter during the holiday season.”
If you’re wondering how you can help the Angel Tree or other Salvation Army programs, Huffman says the more, the merrier!
“There are lots of ways to get involved and we would love to see you doing the most good with us soon.”