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Gresco Utility Supply, Inc. and Jay’s Hope Foundation celebrated the phenomenal fundraising success of Greco’s employees, customers, vendors and partners on Sept. 9 as Gresco presented a check for $35,000 to Cindy Gaskins, CEO and founder of Jay’s Hope, a non-profit that provides support to the families of children battling cancer.

Gresco is located on Rumble Road in Monroe County, not far from I-75’s exit 181. The local facility employs about 100 people, and the company also has offices elsewhere in Georgia and in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for a total of over 150 employees. Gresco, which has been in business since 1960, produces utility supplies for the companies that provide electricity to homes, businesses and industries.

Justin Davis, Gresco Distribution Manager, said that Gresco had planned to include a fundraiser for Jay’s Hope as part of its annual Open House Expo in March. The Expo brings about 600 people as vendors showcase new products and employees and customers celebrate successes of the previous year and plans for the next one. 

After the Expo was cancelled because of COVID-19, Davis and other leaders at Gresco began thinking how to raise funds for Jay’s Hope, which had seen various fundraises cancelled while needs didn’t decrease. Gresco began an on-line fundraiser and a raffle for an impressive big grill.

Katie Beckworth, Gresco Marketing Coordinator, said the original goal was to raise $6,000 for Jay’s Hope. But over about a month, Gresco’s employees, customers and vendors contributed $12,500. Gresco matched that amount to announce to Jay’s Hope that it had a $25,000 check for the non-profit.

But it didn’t stop there. Christie Johnson of Jay’s Hope said she didn’t know what to think when she had another call from Gresco. She was already using the funds to help families with everything from buying a laptop for a child to keep up with school during cancer treatments to paying hotel bills while a child had treatments in Atlanta. But the news was good.

Melissa Williams, Gresco Chief Financial Officer, had applied for a matching grant from Cobank, one of the banks that partners with Gresco and its electric cooperative customers. The application was approved and Cobank added $10,000 to the funds for Jay’s Hope through its Sharing Success program. Jay’s hope now has $35,000 to share with families dealing with childhood cancer thanks to the efforts at Gresco.

“We were completely blown away,” said Johnson. “We were thinking a total of $10,000 would be amazing.”

She said that while Jay’s Hope has had to cancel fundraisers, needs have been even greater during the pandemic. She said Jay’s Hope provides about $2,000-3,000 in gas cards to families every month in addition to its other support. Gaskins founded Jay’s Hope 15 years ago after her son, Jay, passed away from cancer at the age of 2 and a half. She said his battle with cancer made her aware of how much families in Middle Georgia need support. 

Johnson said Jay’s Hope is now serves about 500 children at a time, with half of those in Middle Georgia and several of them in Monroe County. Family outings that are provided as a break from the stress of treatments are on hold because of the pandemic. 

Williams, Davis and Beckworth all commented on how proud they were of the generosity of Gresco employees, customers and vendors.

“The more you give, the more you get,” said Davis. “You can’t outgive God.”

Jay’s Hope is planning to hold its annual 5K fundraiser in person on Saturday, Oct. 31, with some adaptations for COVID-19. It begins and ends at the Bass Pro Shop in Bolingbroke with part of the course in Monroe County. It has followed this course for about a decade and has attracted as many as 800 people. Johnson said it is an important way to raise awareness of childhood cancer as well as to raise funds. Geico and Chic-Fil-A are sponsoring the 5K. Visit the Jay’s Hope website at www.jayshope.org for more information.