MADISON, Wis. (7/19/11)--Cleaning out frog ponds, donating men's neckties, working as clowns in parades, bowling while dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, swimming in gelatin, helping people get in touch with their inner cowboy … what won't credit unions do to give back to their communities? Beyond the typical food drives, the shred-a-thons, charity golf tournaments, and children's hospitals walks and runs, credit unions are finding creative ways to give back to their communities--and make giving fun. Here's a sampling of some credit unions' recent voluntarism.
* About 20 managers of Kohler (Wis.) CU volunteered at the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, Wis., by spending the day cleaning out frog ponds, painting building areas, moving stones, mulching and building a foundation and play area for a toddler house. They finished several projects before the center's summer camp begins. "Our managers love these work days in the community," Ken Sackmann, chief lending officer at the $247.5 million asset credit union, told The Sheboygan Press (July 10)."We know it makes a big difference for the organizations we volunteer for, and it gives us all a chance to work side by side in a completely different setting." * Clowning around to make people happy is a family affair for the volunteer clowns at Northland Area FCU, Oscoda, Mich. The clown troupe is made up of employees who often include their children and grandchildren in their adventures. Northland clown Katie Quigley brought daughters Erika, 7, and Brooke, 10, on their first clown excursion during a Fourth of July celebration in West Branch. Erika was concerned that only children were receiving candy during the parade. She passed her candy out to elderly people seated along the parade route. "They were thrilled--I think she made everyone's day," said Quigley. Also dancing through the crowd were West Branch staffers Janelle Tambling (alias Dazzle) and Dawn Poltz (Bubbles). The Northland Clown Troupe has entertained communities in Northeastern Michigan since 2006, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor July 18). * Employees at LBS Financial CU, a $988.2 million asset credit union based in Long Beach, Calif., donated more than 100 men's neckties to the Cal State Long Beach Career Development Center as part of a tie exchange program to reinforce a professional appearance in the workplace (Press-Telegram July 11). * Twenty employees at EECU, a community credit union in Jackson, Mich., dressed in costumes to participate in Junior Achievement's annual Crazy Bowl fundraiser in February. This year's theme was cartoons. Four EECU teams represented the Smurfs, the Flintstones, Scooby Doo and the Teenage Mutuant Ninja Turtles. They raised $930 and EECU added in an additional $1,430 sponsorship to the event. EECU also donated four $25 Visa Gift Cards for door prizes and a number of goodie bag items (Michigan Monitor). * Whitefish (Mont.) CU, Montana's largest credit union will support a number of charities in its branches' six service areas. For example, it will help folks get in touch with their inner cowboy at the Pistol Creek Rodeo in Ronan, near the credit union's Polson branch by donating prizes for victorious contestants. For this year's Glacier Symphony and Chorale's Festival Amadeus, it is underwriting ticket costs for all students in the Flathead Valley to promote the arts among young Montanans. And it revved all engines to provide prizes and ad costs for the 12th Annual Thompson Falls Rods & Classics Show & Shine by a Dam Site, a classic car show with participants from throughout the state. Proceeds go to the Sheriff's Relief Fund, Cancer Network, food banks and the local animal shelter. * American Heritage FCU in Philadelphia held its 18th Annual Gelatin Olympics in Northeast Philadelphia. Sliders gathered pledges from sponsors, dressed up in zany costumes, and plunged into a pool of 700 gallons of bright red gelatin. Employees helped with the Ultimate Gelatin Slide, the Gelatin Eating Contest, and Gelatin Balloon Toss, all to benefit the Kids-N-Hope Foundation for the Children's Seashore House of Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. Last year, the event raised more than $25,000 to support a music therapy program at the hospital (Life is a Highway June 8). * Ticonderoga (N.Y.) FCU concluded its second annual cell phone drive earlier this year. It collected 111 cell phones as well as chargers and accessories and donated them to the STOP Domestic Violence Center of Essex County. The cell phones will be turned into emergency 911 Life Lines for people in need.