AUB Employees Adopted Local Veterans For The Holidays

 Media Contact:

Wayne Scarbrough

(423) 745-4501 ext. 6002


December 18, 2018


ATHENS, Tenn. – The employees of Athens Utilities Board (AUB) adopted 11 local veterans for Christmas with the help of the McMinn County Veterans Services office and local businesses this year. The project is called Warm Neighbors Gifts and year two wrapped up just last week.


“We chose to share our blessings with veterans again this year because we are able to enjoy all of our freedoms due to their service. We want them to know we will never forget what they have done for us,” stated Sonya Cate, a Customer Service Representative of AUB.


A core women’s group of AUB employees created the Gifts project last year, and now continues to organize the in-house fundraising, gift purchasing, packaging, and delivery of the gifts to local veterans.


“This is the second year we have done a Warm Neighbors Gift, which includes a gift to local veterans with a ‘cold season, warm gift’ theme to it,” said Heather Hacker, AUB’s Management Services Administrative Assistant.


“All of the money spent on the items in the gift packs is from our own pockets, AUB employees. From management to new employees, we all gave of our time and blessings,” said Hacker.


The gifts include a $25 Walmart gift card per veteran to ensure that he or she can shop for what is needed this holiday season.


Funds for the gift card and other goodies included were raised by the employees during an employee chili luncheon sponsored by the women’s group of AUB.


Local businesses also donated to the project in order to make the gifts a little more special.


“Our gifts include blankets, toboggans, scarves, soups, coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal, lotions, and more. We decided this year to reach out to local restaurants, cosmetologists, and even Crescent Sock Company for the socks they make specifically for the armed forces,” Hacker said.


“When we were brainstorming about whom to reach out to, it became fairly obvious that we knew quite a few people with immediate connections to active or veteran armed services personnel. It was amazing how quickly representatives from each place of business responded to us. We are so grateful for them,” said Erica Peden, AUB’s Communications Specialist.


This year, the AUB Warm Neighbors Gifts project for veterans received donations from Hardee’s, Bojangles’, Jenkins Grille and Market, Mayfield Dairy Farms, Crescent Sock Company, and Tammy Priest, a community member. Local hairstylists including Hair Therapy, Jason’s Barber Shop, Jonathan’s Master Hair Design, It’s All About You, Studio 3, The Parlour, and Magic Scissors also generously donated to the cause. Hacker Sign & Graphics Co., designed the Christmas cards that were decorated by the children of AUB employees.


The project is heavily supported by the McMinn County Veterans Services office with the help of Susan Peglow, an officer of the department.


“Susan and staff work tirelessly for our local veterans. She sends us the list of veterans to contact and we make the calls to set up drop off days by AUB employees. With her help, we’re able to meet each person and to remind the community that our veterans need us,” said Peden.


While dropping off the gifts last week, AUB employees Rex Wilcox of the water division and Boone Walker, a wastewater treatment plant operator, had the opportunity to talk with each veteran. “It’s an honor to recognize those who have sacrificed so much to protect our country.  Seeing how much they appreciated a simple, thoughtful gift and at the cost of only meager minutes of our time, I think we could all do a better job recognizing their service simply by taking time to thank our veterans and to listen to their stories whenever we have opportunity to do so,” Walker said.


Walker had the chance to deliver to James Lowry, a local veteran who is still making a difference in fellow veterans’ lives each day. “I serve in the McMinn County Honor Guard and I also drive veterans to doctor appointments when they need a lift,” Lowry said.


“We are so thankful for a local veterans’ services office and for the veterans themselves. It would be wonderful if we could all take a note from the service James is still providing to his country today and do the same. Thank you, James and, to all veterans—we hear you and we’re here for you,” Peden said.


Next year, AUB employees hope to expand the number of veterans to visit with gifts but want to keep the same quality of what is included.  


Picture 1: Brock & Boone Walker (AUB), James Lowry (Veteran), Jacqueline Glassford (McMinn Co. Veteran Services Employee)

Picture 2: Harvey (Veteran) and Betty Hensley, Rex Wilcox (AUB)