This year’s Pine Bluff Commercial’s Christmas Card Fund has shattered last year’s total of $6,690.25 by nearly $3,000, and a last-minute donation by White Bluff power plant employees helped push the fund to $9,410.70.
The newspaper has sponsored the annual fund, which allows donors to make contributions, for the past 30 years. The newspaper collects the money and distributes it among the Dollarway, Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel and White Hall school districts based on student enrollment. No money is kept for administrative reasons.
“We can’t thank the community enough for all of their donations,” Commercial Managing Editor John Worthen said. “And a special thanks goes to Smart Chevrolet in White Hall, whose employees gave $2,848, and to White Bluff workers, who gave more than $1,000. This means so much to kids in need in our community.”
The White Bluff Generating Plant is a coal-fired electrical energy generating plant located near Redfield in Jefferson County and operated by Entergy Arkansas, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History. It was the first coal-fired plant constructed in Arkansas and one of four in operation, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History.
White Bluff employee Tara Reynolds credited her colleagues especially John Anderson and James Welden and general manager Roger Dupre. Reynolds said colleagues and contractors took part in a safety fair, fish lunch, and raffle to raise money for local food pantries. She said that employees and contractors purchased raffle tickets to raise more than $6,000, of which $1,006 was donated to the Commercial’s Christmas Card Fund.
“All the props go to the employees and our contractors,” Reynolds said. “We have a lot of generous people who give back. I am really proud to work here. I saw one of your articles about the Christmas Card Fund. We were looking for some way to help kids directly in our area. We thought it would be a good way to get the money to the kids.”
Contractors donated raffle items, such as a five-foot contractor job box from Saulsbury Industries, a Henry 22 rifle from W/S Mechanical, a Mossburg Rifle from W/S Industrial, an Rtic Cooler from Eagle Electric, a DeWalt Driver from McCormick Painting, Walmart gift cards from Aura, an electric smoker from AIS, a golf bag and crock pot from Industrial Valve, and a DeWalt Drill from United Rental.
White Bluff General Manager Roger Dupre credited about 100 White Bluff employees for contributing money to the food pantry and the Christmas Card Fund.
“They are so community focused,” Dupre said. “They take supporting the community seriously. I cannot say how proud I am of them for supporting it. We have discussions every year and a golf tournament that goes to a social community cause and a raffle. We try to split those funds into various causes. This year we gave to the food pantry and the (Christmas Card Fund).”