Tucson Electric Power employee volunteers are spreading cheer during the holiday season, hanging lights on parade floats and trees, lighting candles at festive events and offering up gifts.
The company is committed to volunteerism and philanthropy all year long, but many TEP employees make an extra effort from November until the end of the year.
“It’s that time of year when many of us want to express gratitude; we like to give our employees a wide variety of opportunities to give back,” Wendy Erica Werden, TEP’s manager of community investment and philanthropy, said.
Employees participate in toy drives and shopping sprees for children, as well as offering food, gifts and companionship to senior citizens in hospice care. Tucson TEP offices host drives to benefit nonprofit organizations such as Youth on their Own and the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse.
TEP linemen team up with Sturgeon Electric Company personnel to string lights on tall trees for the Winterhaven Festival of Lights, a Tucson tradition for more than 60 years. TEP volunteers also string lights on floats for the Downtown Parade of Lights and Festival.
Ron Runion, a group lead in transmission and distribution, serves as Santa Claus for several events during the season. He decided to dress up for the role when his beard turned white six years ago.
“I had a blast,” Runion said. “Talking to the kids is pretty cool. Some of them are absolute gems.”
As Santa, Runion joins a group of TEP volunteers that has visited with hospice patients for more than 30 years. He also attends the Tucson Nursery School Christmas party so young ones can talk with Santa and receive gifts collected by TEP employees.
At the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Runion and his wife dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus for Luminaria Nights.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community and show thankfulness for what we have been provided,” he said.