SRC Automotive donates $25,000 to charities

Backpack, community service programs receive checks from local company


For the second year, SRC Automotive in Monett, a division of Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation, has donated a significant sum back to the communities from which its workers come.

The employee-owned company, which has operated in Monett since 2005, presented 11 checks, totaling $25,000, to various recipients in a ceremony held at the Monett plant on Tuesday. Last year, the company awarded $19,000 to five community service organizations.  "It is our passion to serve the communities in which we live, work and play," said Travis Weathermon, human resources manager for SRC Automotive. "We are grateful to be able to make such a contribution annually." SRC employs 250 people, including 55 in Monett and 80 in Springfield. As the largest re-manufacturer in North America, SRC acquires used engines. At the Monett facility, crews disassemble and clean the units, then ship them to Springfield for machining and remanufacturing. Members of the committee that determined the recipients included Murlin Bettengin, facility supervisor; Rusty Holland, quality inspector; Jamie Carlson, production worker; Wayne Spencer, team leader; Juan Alberto, shipping clerk; and Kevin Smith, inspector of aluminum heads. Each made check presentations. Half of the checks targeted backpack programs at local public schools. Ozarks Food Harvest, which serves the Monett school district, received $2,650. Jennifer Sickinger, senior coordinator of development and communications, said Ozarks Food Harvest serves 52 school districts in 28 counties. One out of four children in the Ozarks either goes to bed hungry or not knowing if there will be food available the next day. Abbey Hedges, backpack program coordinator, said 90 students receive help in the Monett schools.

The Purdy school district received a $2,000 check. Program coordinator Raynell Schallert said volunteers from the area churches pack the food weekly, not knowing who the recipients are. This year, the National Honor Society members have volunteered to help pack as well.

The school serves complete families, so no one is left out, Schallert said.

One day, Schallert recalled seeing a girl rush into the school office, panicking that she had forgotten her backpack and feared she consequently would not have food for the weekend. The secretary assured the girl she would receive another pack. Schallert said seeing the child put a face on how much having the food meant, making the whole program more meaningful. "The gap between what these children consider normal and what we consider normal is so large," said Steven Chancellor, superintendent. "The backpack program gives them a vision of what can be possible."

The Wheaton school district received $1,200 for its backpack program. Counselor Donna Forth said 76 percent of Wheaton's 242 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade qualify for free or reduced-cost meals, the federal standard for families considered economically-challenged. The donation would significantly help the program, said Forth, who serves as its coordinator.

The Marionville school district received $1,500 for its program. Greg Hopkins, the elementary principal, said almost 200 of Marionville's 350 elementary students qualify for free and reduced-cost meals. He observed the school also offers a clothing closet to provide underwear and socks that children may not get them otherwise. "This goes a long way toward helping kids in Marionville," Hopkins said. Linda Jensen, counselor for the Crane school district, began to cry when she was presented with $1,000 to help her school's backpack program. She said her district is No. 1 in the county for underweight children and No. 2 for overweight children. The donation would help her target the most substantial needs. Community Kitchen received $1,650. Carol Stidham, board member, reported the kitchen has served more than 80,000 meals in its five years of service. Operating entirely on donations, the kitchen's volunteers prepare meals and receive support serving them from many other service organizations and volunteers. Recently the kitchen began a retail program, providing groceries through the Ozark Food Harvest to those who meet financial guidelines.

"Sometimes we're asked, 'Why aren't these people working?'" Stidham said. "We're not there to judge. If they save money on groceries, there's more to use on things like their electric bill."

SRC also donated $1,500 to the new Monett animal shelter. Glenn Palade, Monett animal control officer, said the fundraising drive for what has expanded to a $130,000 facility still needs approximately $30,000. He hoped construction, due to start this week, would inspire additional donations to complete the three-year project. Arc of the Ozarks received $1,500 to help its various programs for the mentally challenged. Nurse Carolyn Randall said the Arc serves area residents from age 16 to 86, 29 of whom live in residential services or individual supported living. The Arc provides supported employment and day programs for activities, and recently began a partnership with Ozarks Food Harvest to help its clients.

"It's energizing to hear of help to all the needy in the area," Randall said. "We're always in need of something."

The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO) received a $5,000 donation. Presenter Kevin Smith, president of the Overcomers biking club, participates in the Cruising for Cleavage poker run fundraiser for BCFO, made the presentation.

Jason Gomez, assistant executive director, said BCFO serves 31 counties and has relationships with 15 medical providers to help cancer victims receive, among other things, discounted mammograms. BCFO does not pay medical bills, but focuses on maintaining a degree of normalcy in homes with cancer victims, like paying for children's piano lessons. One Monett couple has received $25,000 in assistance.

"We're honored to be invited and say, 'Thank you,'" Gomez said.

Jeanne Hart, a BCFO volunteer who has also been a recipient of its services, described how the organization helped her make house payments and helped her children while she received treatments. She continues to undergo treatment in St. Louis. The Children's Center in Monett, a division of the Child Advocacy Center of the Ozarks, received $5,000 to continue its efforts. Board member Kevin Huffmaster explained how the center conducts forensic exams on physically and sexually abused children, then serves as a source for the courts to spare victims from multiple interrogations.

Cassie Meier, child advocate, said the Child Advocacy Center of the Ozarks now serves 14 counties and sees as many or more victims as Kansas City.

Marty Callison, president of SRC, who has been with the firm for 40 years, said the selection committee "agonized" over how to distribute funds. "Part of the fiber of the company is to give back," Callison said. "This is a great opportunity to hear stories. There's a lot of good out there that we tend to lose sight of."

Callison noted SRC has invested more than $1 million into its Monett factory, adding a new roof and siding plus a new division. He anticipated charitable giving would continue in the future.