It was with overflowing arms and hearts that Bedford Regional Water Authority (BRWA) employees were able to walk into Bedford Christian Ministries with almost two thousand food and personal care items to donate to the local community.

A month prior to this moment, an employee of the BRWA, a water operator running the plant at Smith Mountain Lake, came up with the idea of doing a drive for Bedford Christian Ministries.

“I can’t help it. I see so many needs in the community and am always thinking of ways that the that we can pool our numbers at work and help give back,” said Desiree Vermillion, the BRWA employee who came up with the donation drive idea.

That idea turned into using the friendly competitive nature of the BRWA into something extraordinary for the community.

Four different teams were formed – Administration, Engineering, Operations, and Maintenance. The team that collected the most items to donate would earn a pizza party from the BRWA. Even though only one group at the BRWA would be deemed the winner, all seventy-nine employees knew that there were no losers in this competition – that the real winner was the community.

Teams were trying to hide their collected numbers from the other teams so no one could overcome them last minute and take the prize. However, the closer the deadline loomed, the more intel teams were collecting from each other on item numbers and using that to bolster their numbers.

On a last minute effort, knowing a few teams were neck in neck, the Administration team did a one last plea to the team, getting a couple hundred dollars collected the day before the deadline and bolstering their donation count to just over one thousand.

At an employee appreciation event on Friday, September 27, each team revealed their final count: Administration: 1,006; Engineering: 101; Operations: 399; Maintenance: 385.

“I daily get to see the giving and unselfish nature of our employees at the BRWA. You can never go too far with a heavy box without someone offering to help lend a hand or open a door. Our food drive was such a new and exciting way to see our employee generosity overflow into the community. This is a new level of pride I have in our employees,” said Brian Key, Executive Director of the BRWA.

On Monday morning, a few BRWA employees were able to see the real winners – the Bedford Christian Ministries. Employees boxed up these items to bring to the donation center. They were met with warmth, tears, and hugs from the organizers at Bedford Christian Ministries.

It was the perfect timing for the donations, according to Bedford Christian Ministries, as summer and early fall are slow donation time periods. Sometimes the organization will run out of donations and have to buy them instead for their patrons. This way, BRWA employees were able to fill their storage room with food and personal care items that employees spent their own money to donate.

This is the first time the BRWA has done a drive like this – and hopefully not the last. The organization wants to turn it into an annual drive – and maybe even add more opportunities for employees to have fun banding together to help contribute to a need of the community.

The Authority provides water and wastewater services to the residents and businesses inside of Bedford County and the Town of Bedford, as well as providing operational assistance to the Bedford County Public Schools for many of their wastewater treatment plants. Additional information on the Authority is available by calling 540-586-7679 or by visiting www.brwa.com.

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