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CUs Provide Typhoon Relief, State Warns Of Charity Scammers
MADISON, Wis. (11/18/13)--Credit unions and state leagues are providing disaster relief to victims in the Philippines impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.  However, one state is warning that scammers are taking advantage of the kindness of people by setting up fake charities.

While relief organizations are ramping up efforts to raise funds for victims, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions warned  citizens about scams. "In times of such a tragedy, legitimate relief organizations aren't the only ones that ask for donations," warned the DFI, which regulates state-chartered credit unions and banks.

"Unfortunately, scammers and charlatans are quick to prey on the good intentions of potential donors," said DFI Secretary Peter Bildsten. He encouraged Wisconsinites "to make sure their donations are being made to a reputable charity."

Credit unions and leagues are stepping up with donations to the movement's international charity arm, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions for its International Disaster Relief Fund. The World Council of Credit Unions, which says 1,320 credit unions serve roughly 3.2 million members in the Philippines, is in contact with authorities there to determine how best to assist the victims.  It worked closely with Philippine credit unions from 2007 to 2010 in a partnership that focused on model credit union building and institutional branding.

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation has committed $5,000 to the international relief effort, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Nov. 14). NWCUF Executive Director Kim Vu urged credit unions in the Northwest to donate.  "Credit unions here and in the Philippines have had a special relationship for years, including a partnership with the Washington Credit Union League in the mid-2000s," she said.

The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation Board of Trustees approved a $3,500 donation to the relief fund, said the Cornerstone Credit Union League (Leaguer Nov. 12). "Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by typhoon Haiyan," said Cornerstone foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran. "They have a long road to recovery ahead of them, and just as the credit union community has come to our aid when hurricanes, fires, flooding and tornadoes have devastated our region, we are here to help our credit union family in the Philippines."

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and Pacul Services, Inc., each pledged $1,000 donations, and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation will make a $2,000 donation, as well (Life is a Highway  Nov. 13). "It is heartbreaking to see this massive devastation and the Philippine citizens suffering from this terrible disaster," said Jim McCormack, in one of his last acts before retiring as PCUA president/CEO. "The credit union community is known for its People Helping People philosophy and contributions are needed to provide resources to help credit union members and employees rebuild their lives."

Credit unions also are finding ways to enlist their community's help in assisting the victims.  For example, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., is accepting contributions to the American Red Cross' International Relief Fund.  All 18 RCU branch locations are designated as collection sites for donations from members and nonmembers in the community.  The collection drive "is our way of offering assistance and responding to the requests of members who would like to help," said Brett Martinez, RCU president/CEO.

Typhoon Haiyan, which struck Nov. 8, killed at least 3,633, although death estimates are expected to be as high as 10,000. It injured at least 12,487, with 1,179 people listed missing (CNN.com Nov. 15). Nine million people were impacted in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities. Hardest-hit was Tacloban City, the capital of the Leyte province. Roughly two million people are displaced. Of those, 400,000 are in shelters.

To support the international credit union disaster relief fund and rebuilding of Philippine credit unions, donations may be sent via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.
5710 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53705, USA.

Individuals may donate with a credit card online by using the link. For additional information, contact: Calyn Ostrowski, foundation director at 608- 395-2056 or e-mail  costrowski@woccu.org. Contributors should indicate the donation is designated for Philippine Disaster Relief Fund.
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