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Sawnee Foundation donates over $40k to local charities, classrooms
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Mandy Smith, assistant principal at Black’s Mill Elementary School, was recently awarded funds through the Sawnee EMC Foundation’s “Bright Ideas” program to provide additional educational resources for elementary school students. The program is funded through Sawnee EMC members rounding up their monthly bills. - photo by For the Dawson County News

The Sawnee Foundation of the Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation recently distributed $47,789.71 to charities and classrooms in Dawson County and beyond through the cooperative’s “Operation Round-Up” program.

Sawnee EMC members who participate in the program voluntarily round up their electricity bill, donating the extra change to the foundation to help residents in the community with rent, clothing, food and educational resources.

Through the program, the foundation awarded $26,110 to 12 local charities and $13,688.71 to seven local schools.

Organizations receiving money in Dawson County include St. Vincent de Paul Christ Redeemer to help Dawson residents with food and rent; to the Good Shepherd Clinic of Dawson County to assist with medication for Dawson residents that visit the clinic; and the Hall-Dawson CASA Program to recruit new Court Appointed Special Advocates in the Dawson area. Other organizations that received donations included Johns Creek Arts Center, the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing in Forsyth County, Senior Services North Fulton, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Forsyth County, Cumming Home Ministries, the Anna Crawford Children’s Center, Jesse’s House, the Sawnee Woman’s Club and Fill Ministries.

Interested applicants are required to submit an application to the foundation board for consideration. In order to qualify for a grant, the 501 (c)(3) charity must be located in Sawnee EMC’s service area and/or provide services within that area.

Teachers were also awarded funds through the “Bright Ideas” program, which is a part of “Operation Round-Up.” A public or private teacher is eligible to apply for funding as long as the school he or she teaches at is within the Sawnee EMC service area.

“Bright Ideas” classroom grants were awarded to Black’s Mill Elementary School Assistant Principal Mandy Smith, Kilough Elementary School teachers Kim Bennett and Amy Tankersley and to Dawson County High School counselor Kate Jarrard. Teachers at North Forsyth High, Matt Elementary, Indian Knoll Elementary and Whitlow Elementary also received grants.

According to Sawnee EMC, the average donation a member makes annually is $6, and participation has helped the foundation board donate over $2.5 million back to the community since inception in 2003.

The foundation also gives out scholarships for high school seniors, and information on applying is located on the Sawnee EMC website at

Sawnee EMC is headquartered in Cumming and serves electricity to 178,800 accounts in seven counties in greater north Georgia.

For more information about the “Operation Round-Up” Program, call Cindy Badgett, director of external affairs, at (678) 455-1399 or email