For most families, Thanksgiving is the time to reflect on our blessings and extend a hand to those in need. This year, Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Project (EIRP) employees based in Bellevue, Birch Run and Wixom increased the ante by surprising neighbors with full Thanksgiving meals.
On Nov. 24, dozens of Consumers Energy workers armed with bags filled with including a 12-pound turkey and all the fixings for a full Thanksgiving feast, knocked on doors in Lansing, Flint and Pontiac. Initially, many employees received a wary greeting from customers.
“In a lot of areas, we first got the look like ‘oh crap, they’re back to dig up my driveway,’ ” employee Elizabeth McGregor said with a laugh. That’s understandable considering the neighborhoods in question were 2015 work sites for our Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Project (EIRP), a major initiative to replace natural gas pipeline throughout our service territory.
But this time, Consumers Energy EIRP employees were back bearing Thanksgiving gifts to thank customers inconvenienced by our projects. In all, teams of employees delivered more than 500 bags in the same neighborhoods where they’d performed work on natural gas pipes earlier in the year.
“We got a lot of hugs,” said McGregor, a Technical Analyst who helped coordinate the volunteer effort. “There was just genuine surprise. It was amazing.”
“To see the shock and awe on their faces was pretty impressive,” said Gas Lines Worker Kirk Newland, also president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 106. “There were a couple people crying and hugging us. This was the first time myself and some of the others had been involved with something like this. It was kind of an amazing thing.”
Union locals 104, 105 and 106 were instrumental in the project. In Pontiac, employees spotted one disabled resident who was en route to the grocery store on a motorized wheelchair. They saved him the trip by supplying a Thanksgiving bag.
“It was really cool to see him heading back home with the turkey,” said Rick Snyder, Manager of Gas System Enhancement.
In addition to $12,000 raised by employees for the bags, the company donated reusable grocery bags and VC Fresh Marketplace, a grocer in Waterford, provided the food at cost.
Support a food bank in your area by visiting FeedingAmerica.org