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November 11, 2019

AEP Texas Employees Use AEP Making A Difference Grant

One by one, AEP Texas employees rolled up tortillas with ground beef and cheese and placed them in a large pan. The final product produced more than 150 enchiladas cooked by AEP Texas employees at the Ronald McDonald House of Corpus Christi to feed the families temporarily living in the facility.

Michelle Horine, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Corpus Christi, was extremely grateful to the employees for helping bring some comfort to the families that are living at the house.

“You can smell the great food throughout the house,” Horine said. “AEP Texas is bringing the corporate family together with our own families here and showing us that our house is a home. They are helping this make this place somewhere that families can reconvene and get stronger as they face the challenges of a child getting better in a hospital nearby.”

Esmer Reyes, materials coordinator, spearheaded the effort and organized employees from Supply Chain and Regional Security to help. Twelve employees including one spouse and a friend teamed up to cook an enchilada dinner and an upside down pineapple cake for the families in the house.

A $300 AEP National Make-A-Difference Day Grant made the effort possible. The grant money purchased the food and other materials needed to prepare the dinner.

Virgil Buchanan, supervisor in the Kingsville Distribution Center, said a conversation about volunteering led to this dinner.

“Esmer took the ball and ran with it,” Buchanan said. “We are really blessed to work with such a great company like AEP Texas. They are good to us and I feel like we need to be good to others too and give back as much as possible.”

The team spent about three hours in the kitchen of the Ronald McDonald House preparing and cooking the food. When dinner started, they stayed and served the families, many of them with several children sitting around large kitchen tables.

"They are going through a lot and we just wanted to come in here and cook dinner and give them one less thing to worry about,” Reyes said. “To make a difference means to help those that are in need. And that is what we did here tonight.”

The Corpus Christi group received a couple of extra pairs of helping hands from west Texas. Abilene Stores supervisors Shawn Lovelady and Matthew Villarreal were in town for meetings when Reyes informed them of what the locals had planned that evening. Lovelady and Villarreal decided to stick around an extra few hours and help with the effort.

For Villarreal, the Ronald McDonald House is close to his heart.

“The Ronald McDonald House helped my brother and sister-in-law when my nephew was in the hospital,” Villarreal said. “So when this opportunity came up, I took it. It feels great to give back to them.”