More than 'a penny'

ALCOA, Inc., employees thoughts worth money to area charities

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By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

A new program at ALCOA, Inc., is benefiting community organizations while making the Tennessee Operations plant better for employees.

The program, which began in March, encourages employees to make suggestions to improve the workplace and look for ways to improve the safety of their work environment. As an incentive, they earn free dinners and other prizes.

The community also gets rewards. With each suggestion deemed beneficial, the company puts $5 into the Community Chest Fund. Employees also get to make suggestions toward what charities receive donations.
The fund distributed $6,000 on July 6 to four area charities.

The Dream Connection received $3,000. ALCOA Inc., employee Becky Mumper said she learned about the organization while playing with the Knox Rugby Club. "It’s a great organization," she said of the Dream Connection. "They fulfill the dreams of children."

The organization screens children with life-threatening or terminal conditions and tries to fulfill a wish for the child. "We ask for three wishes, and we try to fulfill their wishes," said Ron Rector of the Dream Connection.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation received $1,000. ALCOA Inc., employee Duane Pondell signed the check on behalf of the company and handed it to his son, Ryan Pondell, who accepted it on behalf of the foundation. "A year and a half ago, my son Ryan was diagnosed with diabetes," Duane Pondell said.

The Janet Weigand Memorial Scholarship Fund at Maryville Intermediate School received $1,000. Janet Weigand was a teacher at the school. She passed away in 2006, and her husband, Norman Weigand, and daughter, Jill, were on hand to give the check to assistant principal Larry Headrick.

"It helps children in need, and I know she would really appreciate it," Norman Weigand said.

Headrick said Janet Weigand was always the teacher who spotted children who needed a helping hand, whether with the necessities in life such as shoes or clothes or sometimes just money for ice cream.

Restoration International Outreach Children’s Ministry received $1,000. The ministry provides meals for children in the community. Tommy O’Dell with ALCOA, Inc., signed the check, and RIO Children’s Outreach Ministry pastor Don Fife accepted it.

"I hope this is the first of many more contributions we can make through this program," ALCOA, Inc., Community Affairs
Manager Melissa Copelan said.

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