Better together: CoServ assists with goody bags, laptops to start school year right amid COVID-19

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

The start of the 2020-2021 school year was anything but normal. Would learning be virtual, in-person or some combination of the two?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced parents, teachers and school districts to make tough decisions regarding students and classrooms amid continued uncertainty.

One thing that shouldn’t be doubted is CoServ’s commitment to academic initiatives.

OPERATION BETTER TOGETHER

CoServ’s Community Engagement Team jumped at the opportunity to help put together goody bags for every Frisco ISD teacher. The Operation Better Together project started with Altair Global, a corporate relocation firm based in Frisco that, like so many other businesses, has been hit hard by the pandemic.

When they realized they couldn’t accomplish such a massive undertaking themselves, they reached out to Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney for advice. He encouraged them to contact CoServ.

CoServ has been the title sponsor of Frisco ISD’s New Teacher Welcome event for several years, so the Operation Better Together project was just a natural extension of that and a great way to give back to all teachers in the district.

“Getting the recommendation from Mayor Cheney to work on a project as meaningful as this just speaks to the great relationship we have built with the city of Frisco,” said CoServ President and CEO Donnie Clary. “We are an energy company, yet our focus is always on people, so being able to show Frisco ISD teachers how much we appreciate them, alongside so many other great local companies, is awesome.”

CoServ enlisted the help of several community partners, including the Texas Legends, Frisco RoughRiders and FC Dallas, and several businesses to get the goody bags distributed the same week students came back for in-person learning.

The goody bags included hand sanitizer, a face mask and a bottle of water, as well as special giveaways from the Legends, RoughRiders and FC Dallas.

BENDT Distillery in Lewisville donated thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer. The distillery, which also has struggled financially this year, began producing hand sanitizer instead of whiskey when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Plato’s Closet in Frisco provided a discount and helped negotiate a better price from their supplier for the face masks. Market Street, also in Frisco, donated thousands of water bottles.

Altogether, Operation Better Together collected more than $80,000 in cash, donations and in-kind labor from area businesses and sports teams to put together about 4,500 gift bags—one for every teacher in Frisco ISD. 

“This initiative started as a passion project from one of our team members,” said Chad Sterling, CEO for Altair Global. “Capitalizing on her dedication and tenacity, Altair Global picked up the torch and was able to gather donations and resources from our community of supplier partners and other local businesses.

“We are extremely honored to be able to provide this small token of appreciation for FISD teachers to extend our gratitude and support as this unique school year begins.”

LENDING A HAND TO LEWISVILLE ISD

The Community Engagement Team also reached out to the school districts within our service territory to see how we could help them get ready for this very challenging school year. 

Lewisville ISD officials said they needed help handing out thousands of computers and tablets to students for the upcoming school year. CoServ’s Community Engagement Team had six Employees who volunteered about 30 hours over two weeks.

They helped check people in, sanitized surfaces and translated for people who needed it.

“We are grateful they reached out to assist our department with distributing devices to families,” Bryon Kolbeck, Lewisville ISD’s Chief Technology Officer, said. “Thanks to volunteers like the amazing Employees from CoServ, their support will ensure our families are ready for the school year.”

ADOPT-A-SCHOOL PROGRAM EXPANDS

The challenges of COVID-19 have made CoServ’s Adopt-a-School program more important than ever. CoServ has expanded the program to six elementary schools, including four new ones.

CoServ helps these Title I schools with catered meals for teachers, on-campus projects and other feel-good perks to show the staff that they are appreciated.

“We try really hard to build a relationship with the school,” said Whitney Gohlke, CoServ’s Manager
of Community Relations.  

The program will look different this year with COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

For more details about CoServ’s academic programs, please visit our Academic Initiatives page or email schools@coserv.com

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