Duke Energy employees volunteer for MLK Day

Duke Energy employees volunteered Monday for the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

SENECA — Martin Luther King Jr. once said that life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing to serve others?”

With this question in mind, Americans from coast to coast offer their time and energy on King’s birthday to serve their neighbors and their communities.

On Monday, nearly 30 Duke Energy Oconee Nuclear Station employees participated in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Volunteers assembled literacy kits in partnership with the United Way of Pickens County. The kits will be provided to second- and sixth-grade students who are on free or reduced lunch, or who are below reading level.

“The kits try to give the students a better understanding of managing money,” Oconee Nuclear Station project manager Alfred Mitchell said. “Parents are often more adept at talking about sex education than financial literacy with their kids.”

The kits come equipped with materials so the kids can build their own piggy banks. The kits also contain little challenges and mental exercises for how to best manage money.

“They may make money raking leaves, but then lose their notebook and have to buy another,” Oconee Nuclear Station chemistry manager Sheila Dalton said. “So the exercise makes them manage a set amount of money.”

Although Duke Energy employees haven’t helped out with a financial literacy project before, they were on board with the effort.

“It’s good to get this ingrained in them at an early age,” Oconee Nuclear Station technical procedure writer Jill Johnson said. “That’s something they need to consider and think about.”

The Duke Energy Foundation held four volunteer events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day for its employees throughout South Carolina. At Oconee Nuclear Station, 100 financial literacy kits were assembled, containing age-appropriate books with activities that reinforced the book’s focus.

“As part of a company-wide initiative in observance of the Martin Luther King Day of Service, Duke Energy organized volunteer projects for its employees across the state,” Duke Energy Foundation community affairs manager for South Carolina Amanda Dow said. “Because of our longstanding relationship with the United Way, we were able to partner with them on this particular project and thought that it was a really good fit for our employees and the company because of its focus on literacy and its impact to the community.”

Oconee Nuclear Station chemistry admin Lesley Smith said the issue of financial literacy concerns her.

“Schools don’t teach a whole lot of life skills these days,” she said. “That’s why I was interested in helping out today, because this is a life skill that kids can learn at an early age.”