AEP, D.C. Cook Plant brews North Pier beer for the community





Contact: Ryan Cheevers / 269.932.3546


AEP, D.C. Cook Plant brews North Pier beer for the community

Two United Way of Southwest Michigan board members are collaborating on a North Pier beer to benefit local food pantries.

Jim Petro, director of design engineering at AEP, D.C. Cook Plant in Bridgman, and Jay Fettig, owner of North Pier Brewing Company in Benton Harbor, are United Way of Southwest Michigan board members who worked together in a different way to make a difference: their teams created a special craft beer that will be released this Saturday at North Pier Brewing Company, with proceeds going to United Way’s 2nd annual “Christmas in June” food drive.

The public is invited to enjoy the 28 kegs of “Emergency Core Cooling System,” a New England IPA, on May 19 from 12 p.m to 10 p.m. at 670 N. Shore Dr., Benton Harbor. $1 from every pint sold will be donated to the cause.

“This is a great opportunity to have some fun while raising money for people whose children don’t have enough to eat in our community,” Petro said. “There is a real need in our community for the services provided by United Way. It is a privilege to be a small part in filling that need.”  

A Facebook event has been created on North Pier’s Facebook page:

On Giving Tuesday last year (November 28), United Way of Southwest Michigan held an online “BID UNITED Auction,” entirely on Facebook, where items—from Whirlpool appliances to YMCA memberships—were sold to raise money for the community. North Pier auctioned the opportunity to brew a custom craft beer, and a team of AEP, D.C. Cook Plant employees were the winning bidders.

AEP engineers worked with North Pier last March to choose the name and style, design the recipe, and make the beer. The participants wanted to take the giving a step further and donate part of the release-party sales to “Christmas in June.”

“As part of the ‘Christmas in June’ food drive last year, I was witness to a family of five at a local food pantry with nearly empty shelves,” Petro said. “The food donations from the ‘Christmas in June’ drive ensured that family and others had enough to eat. The need for food donations is higher in the summer, which makes this an important event.”

Every year across Southwest Michigan, food pantries see themselves fully stocked in the winter months because of the holiday giving season. However, when summer hits, food donations go down and their shelves are harder to keep stocked. This can leave low-income, hard-working families with very few options. United Way is asking local businesses to help stock the local food pantries with items (in groups of 100 items) to help them through the summer months.  

Participating organizations will collect items that will be dropped off on June 20 and June 21 at the following locations for sorting:

  • Upton Middle School, 800 Maiden Ln. St. Joseph, MI 49085
  • Buchanan Middle School Cafeteria, 610 W 4th St. Buchanan, MI 49107
  • Brookside Learning Center, 61662 Dailey Rd, Cassopolis, MI 49031

The items will then be distributed to 32 different food pantries throughout Berrien and Cass counties. 


United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in every community. We have the influence and relationships to make sustainable change a reality. By harnessing resources from corporate, nonprofit, and public partners, we provide immediate assistance to our most vulnerable populations while addressing the root causes of our community's longstanding challenges and changing lives for the better. To join the fight—through giving, advocacy, and volunteering—visit


Ryan CheeversComment