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Magic City APSO brings cheer to patients at VA Hospital

Thanks to members of the Magic City Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO), many patients at Birmingham VA Medical Center will have happier holidays.

On Dec. 13, Magic City APSO President Shenita Baker arrived early at the downtown Birmingham medical facility to deliver new and gently used clothing and handmade Christmas cards for patients. VA Hospital representatives Charmel Taylor and Barry Austin received the gifts for distributing to inpatients.

Baker said the project gave Alabama Power employees a chance to recognize those who have served the country’s military.

“This was a good project for our veterans,” said Baker, customer accounting analyst at Corporate Headquarters – Birmingham. “We wanted to spread some cheer at the holidays, just to be able to say that our veterans are thought of, and we appreciate their service. We felt the handmade cards added a personal touch that will have a big impact.”

Austin noted that the VA Hospital reached out to the Alabama Power Foundation and Charitable Giving for assistance.

“We did handmade Christmas cards and provided men’s underwear, T-shirts, button-down shirts and jeans,” said Baker, who, with Magic City APSO, has supported numerous projects for the VA Hospital throughout the years. “We gave about 30 brand-new clothing items, along with a few gently used, button-down shirts.”

The Christmas cards were a labor of love for Baker and her 11-year-old son, Sean, who is a fifth-grader and a Magic City APSO member. Baker’s uncle also helped. The cards will be distributed to the hospital’s inpatients.

“My son really enjoyed it because this gave him an opportunity to work with my uncle, who likes to draw. It was very creative,” said Baker, who has worked at Alabama Power 17 years. “We made about 20 cards, working over several weekends. There were a lot of little pieces to them. My son came up with the messages inside.”

Several Alabama Power employees at Corporate Headquarters and the Energy Center at the Colonnade donated items.

Despite facing many challenges from COVID-19 in the past year-and-a-half – and not being able to have face-to-face participation – Baker said that Magic City APSO has enjoyed success. In 2021, the group also widened its scope of support to some new nonprofits.

“We were still able to connect with new organizations this year, increased our membership and increased our volunteer hours over last year,” added Baker, an APSO member for 15 years. “Through projects like this one, we are making a positive difference.”

Taylor, chief of the Center for Development and Civic Engagement at the hospital, said, “On behalf of our VA Medical Center executive director, Dr. Oladipo Kukoyi, thank you so much for thinking of the Birmingham VA Medical Center and inquiring about an opportunity to donate to our heroes.”

Austin, who has served the Birmingham VA Health Care System six years, said, “We want to express our thanks to Magic City APSO members for the kindness and thoughtfulness they have shown our veterans with these donations.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)