UniSource Energy Services volunteers are spreading joy this holiday season, decorating floats for parades and giving toys and clothes to limited-income residents.
UES makes a strong commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy throughout the year, but many employees make special efforts to reach out from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
“It’s that time of year when many of us want to express gratitude,” said Wendy Erica Werden, Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy. “We like to give our employees a wide variety of opportunities to give back.”
Employees do this in many ways, from participating in toy drives to supporting senior citizens in hospice care.
Throughout Arizona this year, UES employees are participating in four holiday parades by building floats, wearing costumes and bringing their families to ride along.
Employee volunteers built lit-up entries for holiday parades in Prescott on Nov. 26 and Prescott Valley on Dec. 2.
A large float was constructed out of a dump truck and backhoe trailer with a mock fireplace on top. Off-road four-wheeled recreational vehicles were decorated with a rocking horse, pirate ship and teddy bear to travel with the float.
A group of 20 employees and family members used scraps of gas pipes to build many of the decorations.
“It’s nice to see the smiles on people’s faces,” said Chris Byrne, a Construction and Maintenance Foreman in UES’ Prescott district who is leading the work on parade floats.
In Flagstaff, employees are spending lunch breaks making costumes for the Pokemon-themed float in the Holiday Parade of Lights on Dec. 10. Between 10 and 15 employees are creating decorations for a flatbed truck.
Kingman employees started making plans in August for a Star Wars-themed float that will be built on a 19-foot trailer pulled by a gas truck. Scenes from the movies will be projected on a screen while Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and children dressed as Jedis participate in a play fight. Stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters will walk alongside the float, handing out candy canes.
“It’s a fun, interactive way to volunteer and show our appreciation to the community,” said Energy Services Program Manager Nikole White, who is coordinating work on the float. “Employees engage in this festive event to celebrate and create lasting memories with their family members and friends.”
In addition to preparing for the parades, UES employees organize toy drives and collect items for those in need.
Last month, Nogales employees organized a Thanksgiving food drive with a local elementary school. Classes competed to collect the most food for the Santa Cruz County Senior Center, with top collectors winning a pizza party hosted by UES. Nogales employees also delivered food and turkeys to elementary schools.
Flagstaff employees are participating in the Light A Life fundraising event on Dec. 4 for Northland Hospice and Palliative Care. Contributors place tags with the name of deceased loved ones on a Christmas tree or menorah in their memory.
In Prescott, employees are collecting clothes, boots, jackets and other items to help the homeless through the Coalition for Compassion and Justice.
“We want to help keep them warm and help them in any way we can,” said Paula Smith, an Operations Support Analyst who is helping with the effort along with Sara Scott, a Gas Construction Planner.