MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Many families won't go hungry during the holidays, thanks to credit unions across the country who are giving back to their communities by stocking food pantries and providing turkeys, meals and more for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, staff from Belvoir FCU, a nearly $270 million asset credit union in Woodbridge, Va., will personally cater a smorgasbord of Thanksgiving dishes to 15 soldiers who can't take a leave during the holiday season to be with their families because of their training at Fort Belvoir. Belvoir Federal CEO Patricia Kimmel and Director of Branch Operations Judy MacDonald discovered last week the soldiers can't leave. "These soldiers sacrifice so much for their country, serving them a warm meal on Thanksgiving is the least we could do. We simply wanted to bring them a little piece of home," said Kimmel. Belvoir has nearly $270 million in assets. In Manchester, N.H., Bellwether Community CU will make Thanksgiving dinner possible for 150 families. Saturday it delivered about 2,000 pounds of turkeys to New Horizons food pantry, the 10th year it has made the annual contribution. With Bellwether's donation, New Horizons will create and distribute Thanksgiving food baskets to local families in need. Each basket will have a turkey and a variety of non-perishable items. The $327 million asset credit union's contribution doesn't end there. Each month, six to eight Bellwether employees help serve 200 meals in New Horizons' soup kitchen, said Mary Silva, food service manager there. "I am proud of our employees and directors for being leaders beyond our walls and helping local families in need," said Bellwether Community President/CEO Micahel L'Ecuyer in a press release. Since most international students at Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., will be far away from their families during the holidays, Palisades FCU, Pearl River, N.Y., provided funds and volunteers as part of its sponsorship of the 23rd annual International Student Thanksgiving Luncheon last week at the college. More than 100 students, faculty, volunteers and community leaders attended the event, which helps international students learn about American customs and Thanksgiving traditions. Fifteen Western Michigan credit unions have joined together for their second year to support local hunger relief organizations (Michigan Monitor Nov. 22). They are collecting donations until Dec. 31. "The Credit Union Food Drive will make a huge difference in the lives of area families struggling during this difficult economic time," said Gail Kraft, executive director of Love Incorporated of Muskegon. Last year credit unions collected more than 6,500 pounds of food, and they plan to exceed that this year. Participants include: Community Schools CU, Family Financial CU, First General CU, HarborLight CU, Lakeshore FCU, Michigan Coastal CU, Muskegon Consumers Power Employees FCU, Muskegon Co-op FCU, Muskegon Governmental CU, SB FCU, Port City FCU, Service 1 FCU, Shoreline FCU, Tri-Cities CU and Wyandotte FCU. Three credit unions in Fond du Lac, Wis., are teaming up with other businesses on the area's Stock the Shelves campaign. Credit unions participating include CitizensFirst CU, Fond du Lac CU, and Marine CU. Total donations reached the $20,000 mark earlier this week and about 300 pounds of food have been collected so far. The campaign will end in two weeks. In Scappoose, Ore., Buddy Bear, a mascot of St. Helens Community FCU (SHCU), hit the streets Thursday to raise awareness for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, which helps Columbia County families in need. SHCU and Auto Solution are hosting a food drive and fundraising event from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 at branch locations in Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier. The goal is to raise $500 and three barrels of non-perishable food. And in Brewer, Maine, officials from the Maine Credit Union Campaign for Ending Hunger teamed up with Good Shepherd Food Bank last week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Maine's Food Mobile, a truck that has delivered more than one million pounds of food to families in need since 3005 Last week's ceremony was held to coincide with Thanksgiving, according to the Maine Credit Union League. The credit unions' campaign also donated $1,600 to purchase 131 13-pound turkeys so the food pantry can "deliver them to families who need them," said Jon Paradise, the league's governmental and public affairs manager.