“Giving tree” in PEC’s Kyle office helps send kids in need back to school‬

The Christmas tree in our Kyle office’s Member Relations area has worn many hats. But this August, it became a giving tree.

When PEC Member Services Supervisor Mike Juarez joined the Kyle team in July, the tree (which has been decorated for every holiday from Easter to Valentine’s Day to Cinco de Mayo) was dressed in red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July. With the holiday long over, Mike started to take the decorations down.

Kyle giving tree
Photo: (Left to right) PEC Member Services Agent Gracie Granado, PEC Engineering Assistant Diana Juarez, PEC Member Services Supervisor Mike Juarez, and PEC Member Services Agent Ora Barrientos display donations from the back-to-school drive.

“No fewer than four members asked to speak to the supervisor when they saw the tree bare,” he remembered, laughing. “They wanted to know what was going on with the tree, because they loved it so much and felt like it built such good camaraderie in the community.”

Member services agents Clarissa Ruedas and Ora Barrientos floated the idea of decorating the tree with a back-to-school theme in August. When PEC Community Engagement Director Trista Fugate heard the suggestion, she enthusiastically put the Kyle office in touch with the Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s backpack program, which collects school supplies for area children in need.

‪Just like that, the tree found a new life, and a school supplies drive was born.

“The agents’ enthusiasm for giving sparked a great deal of movement,” Mike said. “We filled two big boxes of supplies, and members even contributed as well. They were right: The tree really does build camaraderie in the community.”

The Kyle tree is still standing, and although Hays CISD administrators have collected the supplies, donations are still welcome. Please contact [email protected] with questions.

A special thanks to PEC Member Services Agent Clarissa Ruedas for decorating the tree and to PEC Member Services Agent Criselda Hernandez for her enthusiasm pushing for the drive and donating supplies!