Great Lakes Energy, with the help of its members, continued its tradition of looking out for charitable and community organizations during 2011 by awarding $176,081 in People Fund grants. The funds went to more than 80 charitable and community organizations throughout Great Lakes Energy's 26-county service area, which stretches from Kalamazoo to the Mackinac Straits. Of that total, more than $28,300 was awarded to 20 organizations in central Michigan. The Great Lakes Energy People Fund is supported solely by Great Lakes Energy members who allow their electric cooperative to round up their bill each month to the next dollar. "Thanks to the generosity of our members we've awarded more than $2.23 million in grants since 1999 to local organizations," says President\/CEO Steve Boeckman. "For just less than 50 cents per month, our members can round-up their bill and all of that money goes back to their local community." Members of the electric cooperative who are not participating are encouraged to enroll in the People Fund online or by contacting Great Lakes Energy's office. "The contributions are small but when added together, we are able to help many," said Boeckman. "Giving back to the community is one of the cooperative principles and we couldn't do it without our members' help." The following 20 groups in central counties received People Fund grants totaling just over $28,300 during 2011: $1,000 to the American Red Cross, Mecosta\/Osceola Chapter: Supplies for health and safety classroom training. $1,750 to the COVE (Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters), Ludington: Fence replacement. $1,250 to the District Health Dept. No. 10, White Cloud: Insurance fees for Girls on the Run program for Mason, Lake, Manistee and Wexford counties. $300 to the Early Birds for Warmth, Baldwin: Plastic totes to store donated clothing. $250 to Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Scottville: Children's holiday event and pictures. $1,699 to Habitat for Humanity of Osceola County: Freezer for fundraising activities. $2,500 to HELP, Ludington: New appliances for low income families. $3,000 to the Irons Union Church Mission Store: Addition to the mission store. $1,000 to the Lake County Christmas Program, Baldwin: Books for low income children. $3,038 to the LeRoy Razzaque Days: Wagon for their kielbasa trailer. $2,800 to the Manistee Child Advocacy Center: Wireless video camera and computer. $1,200 to the Mason County Central Middle School Veterans Committee: Video equipment for the Veterans' Day celebration. $500 to the Mason County District Library: Circus Day, a free family event. $600 to the RSVP, Big Rapids: Train volunteers to be literacy tutors. $1,500 to the Sandcastles Children's Museum, Ludington: SMART table. $1,000 to the Sauble Township: Playground equipment at the township park. $1,000 to the Scottville Area Senior Center: Tables and chairs. $2,000 to the Scottville Optimists: New floor scrubber. $1,000 to the West Michigan Fair Association, Scottville: Fairground upgrades for handicap accessibility. $1,000 to the West Shore Pregnancy Center, Ludington: Cribs and mattresses for Earn While You Learn program. The full list of grant recipients can be found in the 2011 People Fund Annual Report included in the January issue of Michigan Country Lines magazine recently mailed to Great Lakes Energy members. Others may obtain the report by contacting Great Lakes Energy at (888) 485-2537 or by visiting www.gtlakes.com and downloading the report from Your Community\/People Fund\/Annual Report. The Great Lakes Energy People Fund invites applications for 2012 grants from local nonprofit organizations. Deadline for applications for the 2012 grant cycles are Feb. 1, June 1 and Oct. 1. Request an application by calling (888) 485-2537 ext. 1313, or download the application on www.gtlakes.com.