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CUs make sure troops have a happy holiday
MADISON, Wis. (12/20/12)--Credit unions nationwide are undertaking efforts to make sure that U.S. troops deployed in foreign countries will have a happy holiday season.

Some of the efforts include:

  • More than 100 State Employees' CU (SECU) "elves" from throughout North Carolina traveled Dec. 1 to a credit
    Click to view larger image Employees and volunteers at State Employees' CU in Raleigh, N.C., assembled 5,000 holiday gift boxes for North Carolina soldiers deployed overseas. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
    union operations center in Raleigh to help support its third annual SECU Supports the Troops holiday campaign packing day event. As the morning unfolded, the elves--SECU staff and volunteers--assembled, labeled and taped 5,000 holiday gift boxes filled with wish-list items for North Carolina National Guardsmen and other North Carolina-based deployed soldiers. Thirty-four pallets with more than 400 cases of "gifts from home" were then loaded into two SECU sleighs--two U.S. Postal Service 18-wheelers--for delivery to military bases worldwide. With collection efforts beginning in mid-September, SECU's 245 branches statewide decorated their foyers with art displays and accepted wish-list donations from members and local community groups through Oct. 31. Included in the holiday boxes were travel-sized dental supplies, soap, shampoo, first aid items, games, socks and snacks.  Heartwarming letters from North Carolina school children, expressing thanks for the soldiers' service were added as the final touch.  Monetary contributions from members were used to help with shipping costs.
  • These marines stationed in Afghanistan appreciated holiday packages sent to them by INOVA FCU in Elkhart, Ind. (Photo provided by INOVA FCU).

    INOVA FCU in Elkhart, Ind., shipped 10 large boxes to a group of Marines stationed in Afghanistan. When the packages arrived, the members of Engr Co B 6th ESB 4th MLG said it was like Christmas. They found items from snacks, to toothbrushes, to an Xbox 360 inside. INOVA wanted to make being away from home a little easier for the soldiers, who will be overseas this Christmas. INOVA employees donated items such as candy, oatmeal, soap, hand warmers, video games, eye drops, manicure kits and notebooks. INOVA members made donations at the teller line that were used to buy additional supplies such as batteries, sheets and games. The project was especially meaningful to INOVA Cash Service Representative Anna Smith, who is engaged to one of the soldiers. "It brought tears to my eyes to see how much we collected," she said. Smith was in contact with her fiancé, Cpl. Brandon Evans, after the packages arrived. "They said it was like Christmas for them, and since they won't get a normal Christmas this year, it was the next best thing."
  • Some 50 military families and friends at two California credit unions recently had the opportunity to connect with loved ones for the holiday season because of Operation Best Wishes, a program sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council, with assistance from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' newly launched
    Click to view larger image Operation Best Wishes, a program sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council, with assistance from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' newly launched C-Sun Studios, set up a mobile video-recording studio at predominantly military-affiliated credit unions. Pictured is a family preparing to send a video greeting. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
    C-Sun Studios. This year, the tour of the Operation Best Wishes--a national program offered as a free service by America's credit unions--covered eight states. The California leg of the tour included stops at Grossmont Schools FCU in El Cajon and Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in Vacaville. Travis CU in Vacaville, hosted the Travis AFB event. Operation Best Wishes sets up a mobile video-recording studio--this year provided by C-Sun Studios--at predominantly military-affiliated credit unions. The military and their families are invited to use the studio to record and make personalized video greeting cards e-mailed to deployed loved ones or other family members who will not be with them during the holidays. It differs from Skype and other Web-based communications--in that, the video greeting cards are produced by using a green backdrop, enabling families to be superimposed over holiday animations.
  • Jami, Robert, Tyson and Cheyanne Torres of Romeo in Michigan got an early visit from Santa this year with Channel 955's Mojo in the Morning "Breaking & Entering" and Community Choice CU in Farmington Hills, Mich. Along with many hard-working families, the Torres family has been hit during difficult economic times. Jami and Robert, both veteran Marines, had difficulties bouncing back from service--along with Jami's growing health concerns. Channel 955's Mojo in the Morning brings the holidays to local families who are experiencing hardship. Every year, the show provides needy families with truckloads of food, necessities and gifts.
  • Belvoir FCU employees contributed more than $1,500 to an employee-giving fund  for the holiday season. The employees of Woodbridge, Va.-based Belvoir FCU have made supporting families in need an annual tradition through the United Service Organizations' (USO) "Adopt-A-Family" program, the Fort Belvoir Chaplin, and Operation Sugarplum, provided by Army Community Service. With the donations of credit union employees, Belvoir FCU was able to adopt 10 children from the USO Metropolitan Washington and one military family of four. Those adopted by Belvoir were given gifts to help make their holidays brighter. Belvoir also donated $300 to the Operation Sugarplum program, which provided eligible families assigned to Fort Belvoir gifts and/or food cards during the holidays.
  • Since 1999, First Liberty FCU in Great Falls, Mont., has spearheaded Operation Happy Holidays in which Montana service members deployed overseas receive packages of holiday treats from home (Great Falls Tribune Nov. 26). Operation Happy Holidays will ship packages to roughly 550 troops this year. Also, students at local elementary schools make holiday cards to send to the troops. When servicemen and women return from deployment, they provide volunteers at Operation Happy Holiday with feedback about packages, and some help load boxes to send to others, the newspaper said.


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