Editor's note: This is the latest article in our series of stories to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Southern Plains Co-op. Congratulations to the co-op on their 75th anniversary, and thanks for all you've done in the community.
The Southern Plains Co-op has always been known for their community engagement.
The list of the programs, projects and initiatives they sponsored through the past 75 years would make a good-sized book. They care about the communities they serve and that reflects who they are.
"Our values are excellence, teamwork and people. Our vision is to be the retail leader in southeast Saskatchewan. And our mission is we put people first through the development of our employees by contributing to the communities we serve and by providing excellence and value to our members and customers," said Carol McKay, the human resources manager for the co-op.
Based on their values, vision and mission, the co-op decides on who to support, and the list of those who have received help is endless.
"The co-op has invested time and money into many, many public groups and organizations within the communities that we are in – Carlyle, Oxbow and Estevan."
Throughout the years, groups and individuals have been reaching out to the co-op, seeking some help and support for their initiatives. And while there are some guidelines the co-op follows in their sponsorship activities, people always know that a legit cause will get help from a local co-op. Whether it be in funds, gift cards or products, the co-op always finds a way to support the community that supports them.
"Why is it important? Because that is us, that is co-op. One of our catch lines is 'you're at home here.' The value that we hold to the highest level is that we are part of the community. Co-op is part of the community. We're not just a store on the block. We are involved with the areas that we have businesses in, it's a value for us. It's something that we believe in and that we're very strong in," McKay explained.
For years the co-op has been a big supporter of hockey teams, leagues and events. They also contribute to the Estevan and District Music Festival, curling kids program, volleyball teams, Carlyle Fun Dayz, Habitat for Humanity, 4-H groups, the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees, the Estevan Day Care Co-operative, the United Way Estevan, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Estevan Kinette Club, schools and senior living facilities, Estevan Wildlife Federation and many other groups and initiatives that make the communities they serve better and happier.
Each year the co-op has a Fuel Good Day in which part proceeds of every litre sold at each service station goes to a non-profit organization.
"The list goes on and on. We're very, very proud of the communities that we're in. We do provide and support them as much as we can, including volunteer hours."
There are also some events that co-op puts on for the communities including the Halloween-themed Trail of Terror in Estevan and movie night program for kids. They also have a kids club within the co-op.
And even though the pandemic changed all traditional operations and temporarily reshaped some of the co-op's community involvement, at the same time it made it stronger. To make things better for the community during trying times, the co-op started the Pay it Forward Friday mission, where every Friday they hand out baskets with various items to random shoppers.
"We've been doing that since COVID hit in March of last year, and we're still carrying along with it today. It's just something that aligns well with us. It is our feel-good," McKay said.
All of the co-op's community involvement and initiatives are posted on their Facebook page.