TEP enjoys traditions each year to brighten spirits for the holiday season. We provide food to those who are less fortunate, give gifts to children and light up community events.

During the first year of the pandemic, many of our traditions were altered or put on hold. Although COVID-19 continues to spread, we’re taking precautions that have allowed us to safely resume some volunteer activities this year.

“I am grateful for my blessings and I enjoy being able to participate in events that impact our community with my TEP colleagues, family members and friends,” said Lindsay Poole, Vice Chair of TEP’s employee volunteer group, the Community Action Team.

Here are five traditions that help our community bond over the holidays:

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

After the festival went dark in the depths of the pandemic, we’re back as the title sponsor of the popular outdoor event that draws thousands to see decorated houses and trees in a midtown neighborhood.

Earlier this month, our linemen, with the assistance of other employees, used our bucket trucks to string lights on tall trees. In addition, our volunteers will help collect food for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona on Dec. 15, 18 and 21.

“It’s a fun event for a great cause. People are in a great mood, celebrating the holiday season,” Lindsay said.

The festival runs Dec. 11-26 from 6-10 p.m. For more information, visit the Winterhaven website.

Steel sculptures at ZooLights

Each year, TEP welders craft a new animal sculpture made of steel to donate to the zoo for its signature ZooLights holiday celebration and other nighttime events.

This year, a giraffe has joined a hippo and alligator, which were donated in previous years, as a trio of light-up animals on display. TEP also serves as a sponsor for the family-friendly outdoor event.

“Working with the zoo on the animal sculptures brings the holidays early to our department and offers an opportunity for creativity and collaboration,” said Arron Porter, Transmission & Distribution Supervisor of TEP’s Welding and Fabrication Shop. “When I deliver the animal to the zoo each year and get to see the expressions of joy from the zoo staff, it just make you feel good. We hope our efforts brings smiles to the faces of the zoo visitors, as well.”

ZooLights runs nightly through Dec. 23, then returns Dec. 26-30 for encore nights.

On two of the nights – Dec. 18 and 19 – our employees will hand out boxes of LED bulbs and other giveaways at ZooLights.

For more information, visit the zoo website.

Food for Thanksgiving

In advance of Thanksgiving each year, our volunteers help collect food and monetary donations for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona at the Holiday Harvest Food Drive at Sam’s Club.

This year’s drive, on Nov. 18, collected 2,500 pounds of food and raised $74,501, including a $25,000 matching donation from TEP.

“The Community Food Bank is such a wonderful way to help support our local and surrounding communities with their various programs. It’s a great event to kick off the holiday season,” said Mark Brown of TEP’s Information Technology Help Desk, who rallied employee involvement in the drive.

Gardens of Light

Patrons can now return to enjoy a million lights, refreshments and live music in Tohono Chul garden with TEP’s support. After taking a break for safety reasons last year, Holiday Nights are back with a mask requirement on Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18.

In addition to sponsoring Holiday Nights, TEP is providing tickets for disadvantaged families served by Interfaith Community Services to attend the event.

In midtown Tucson, residents can take a stroll among more than 3,000 luminarias and other décor at Wanderland at Tucson Botanical Gardens. While a small number of luminarias continue to have lit candles, most now use LED lights paid for with a TEP donation. The event runs most evenings through Jan. 3.

Gifts for Kids

Our employees feel strongly that all children should enjoy a happy holiday season. Each year, they go out of their way to make donations and participate in events to bring cheer to those served by a variety of local nonprofit groups.

As we do every year, TEP will make a contribution to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson for rewards and gifts for children in the program. In previous years, our employees have participated in shopping sprees with the club members, but those in-person events were canceled because of the pandemic both in 2020 and 2021.

TEP made a financial contribution and an in-kind donation of use of a bucket truck to lead a parade of motorcycle riders for the William G. Valenzuela Pay it Forward Toy Run, benefitting Aviva Children’s Services that serves foster and at-risk children in the community.

This story is part of our ongoing series highlighting TEP’s philanthropic focus areas. TEP works with nonprofit partners to develop invitation-based donation requests for community assistance efforts. Funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. Learn more about donations.

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