TEP is providing reusable water bottles and tumblers for students in local schools to help them stay hydrated while water fountains are unavailable, as well as to cut down on landfill waste.

Because of COVID-19, local schools are discouraging or restricting access to water fountains to avoid the spread of illness. Instead, some districts, such as Tucson Unified School District, installed refillable water stations at the schools. Students are encouraged to use refillable water bottles, which are in short supply at some schools.

“With 70 percent of students meeting low-income criteria, many do not have the means or access to purchase water bottles,” said Dawn Bell, Executive Director of Educational Enrichment Foundation (EEF), which supports students and educators in TUSD.

Ryan Anderson, Manager of Business Development, found out about the need for about 1,000 bottles as a board member of EEF. After a board meeting, Anderson reached out to Francisco Castro, Manager of Energy Programs, and Wendy Erica Werden, Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy, to find out if those groups had water bottles or resources available.

Within a week, Castro and Sam Molina Jr., a Renewable Analyst, located 140 water tumblers and foldable water bottles that Anderson was able to give to EEF for distribution to meet immediate needs.

“We did what we could to satisfy the need as soon as possible,” Anderson said.

Werden also found funds to purchase the initial 1,000 bottles and reached out to UNS ECOS, the company’s green team, which is also providing funding for additional bottles, in advance of its initiative to reduce disposable cups and bottles within UNS Energy.  The additional water bottles will go to other school districts within the Tucson area. The U.S.-made bottles with a TEP logo are made of recyclable materials.

Werden is now connecting with Aracely Lucero, a Key Account Manager who works with schools, to reach out for distribution to additional schools and districts.

Amy Cannon, Assistant Principal of TUSD’s Booth-Fickett K8 Math-Science Magnet School, sent a note of thanks to Anderson about the tumblers and bottles.

“Our scholars are grateful for your support,” Cannon wrote. “As you know, it is quite hot in the desert during the summer months and the water bottles are vital. We are able to maintain the necessary COVID-19 mitigation practices to keep our community safe and well hydrated.”

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