Every year, Midland Power Cooperative sends out thousands of Patronage Dividend checks to its members. And every year, hundreds of these checks remain unclaimed.

To combat this, Midland Power is introducing its Check for the Check campaign, to remind its members to look for the dividend checks in their mail around the first of December.

"Patronage is an important part of what separates us from other electrical utilities," said Jack Runge, board president, Midland Power. "Which is why this year we’re making it a priority to raise awareness of the program."

Last year, Midland Power Cooperative issued a total of 7,546 checks to members. Of these, 187 came back unclaimed, about 2.5 percent of the total.

"Every year we try to make sure people know that we’re trying to get these dividends to them," said Communications Coordinator Abbey Sprague. "We publish a list of ‘lost members’ in our newsletter every year. But we still aren’t always able to track everyone down."

This year, Midland Power will be sending out roughly 8,755 patronage dividend checks on Nov. 27, a total of $800,000, to members who were customers in 1998 or 2012.

"We want every single one of those checks to be cashed," said Sprague. "And we owe it to our members to get the word out to look for them."

Members getting less than $10 will instead receive a bill credit on their account for December.

"Patronage is a lot like the dividends paid out by corporations to their shareholders when they turn a profit," said Sprague. "The difference is that for us, our shareholders are our members."

Annual payouts of patronage dividends are important to the directors at Midland Power. Since 2007, the cooperative has distributed more than $3.5 million in patronage dividends to members.

"At its core, patronage is the essence of who we are," said Runge. "And that’s why it’s so important that every single one of our members be aware of this and take advantage of it."

Anyone with questions regarding Midland Power’s patronage program is encouraged to call 800-833-8876.