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Holiday giving in full swing at CUs
MADISON (12/21/10)--At many credit unions, the holidays are in full swing with their employees, volunteers, members outdoing themselves to provide a little happiness and often the basic necessities for those who need them.
Click to view larger imageMore than 50 Warminster, Pa.-based Freedom CU employees, families and friends, along with the credit union's youth mascot, Dollar Dog, helped kick off the holiday season at the 50th Annual Hatboro Holiday Parade, which benefited Toys for Tots. Freedom participants handed out candy canes. (Photo provided by Freedom CU)
Credit unions participate in the holiday giving in a variety of ways--with parades, giving trees, holiday greetings to troops, and their annual food, clothing and toy drives. Many people benefit from their generosity: children, struggling families, the homeless, the elderly, those with special needs, and troops stationed far from home. News Now will share some of their efforts in stories this week and next. For starters here are a few efforts, some with unusual twists.
* Naperville, Ill.-based Hawthorne CU staff meeting with Families Helping Families (FHF) discovered another need that many take for granted: gasoline. "Without money for gas, it makes it difficult to shop and get to work," said Vicky Joseph, founder of the charity. "And many of our clients are trying to hold down two jobs and attend school to better their situation." As a result, the credit union and its staff donated $550 for gas cards for 22 people. One recipient is using the card so she and her four-year-old can make a holiday trip home to Tennessee--a trip she hasn't been able to afford for years. "We came to realize how hard the head of the households are working to become independent, so we wanted to give this practical gift to provide some relief and support toward their achieving success," said Carl Sorgatz, president of the $126 million asset credit union. * In Vancouver, Wash., Columbia CU teamed up with Boy Scouts troops earlier this month to give away 80 Christmas trees. It also is conducting drives for Share, a nonprofit organization for the homeless and the hungry, and for Children's Center, a local mental health agency. *
Click to view larger imageWoodstock, Ga.-based Credit Union of Georgia employees donated $1,500 to Clark Howard's "Clark's Christmas Kids" program. From left are, Laurel Howard, Clark, and Amanda Arnold, who visited the Duluth Wal-Mart to shop for more than 20 children in foster care and fulfill each child's top three wishes. Clark and AM 8750 and 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB marked their 20th year of working with the Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services. (Photo provided by Credit Union of Georgia)
In Suitland, Md., Andrews FCU joined with the Armed Forces Financial Network (AFFN) to present $3,000 in holiday gift cards to the Joint Base Andrews Fisher House, which provides comfortable and caring atmosphere where families can gain support while their loved ones are treated at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center. The $808 million asset credit union also presented an additional $3,000 in gift cards, making a total contribution of $6,000. "Families that come to be with a loved one sometimes arrive suddenly and without all their necessities," said Suzanne Curren, Andrews' director of public relations and community development. The cards help defray some of the personal expenses, she said. * In Pennsylvania, the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Chapter of Credit Unions raised nearly $500 in an auction for a local animal shelter, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Dec. 15). *
Click to view larger imageBelco Community CU employees Michelle Besic and Colleen Mateer work at the Hershey Bears hockey team's annual Teddy Bear Toss. After the Bears scored their first goal, fans "tossed" teddy bears on the ice. Belco employees and families collected 7,199 teddy bears and other stuffed animals, to be donated to local hospitals and charities at more than 25 locations. Today Belco is delivering bears and holiday cheer to the pediatric ward at a Harrisburg, Pa., hospital. Employees also donated more than $260 and 368 toys to the U.S. Marines 2010 Toys for Tots, and provided $500 in Visa gift cards to the Salvation Army Coats for Kids Telethon with WGAL. (Photo provided by Belco Community CU).
The University of Iowa Community CU is sponsoring its 15th annual "Santa's Holiday Helpers" program to assist clients of Four Oaks, a nonprofit child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agency in Eastern Iowa. Participants purchase a gift for the child listed on the card and return it, wrapped or unwrapped. The gifts were delivered to the children on Dec. 14 (Iowa City Press-Citizen Dec. 6). * A variation on the giving tree is the Holiday Giving Wreath. Vantage CU, St. Louis, collected gifts, food and clothing donations and spare change for the annual Cardinals Care Party at Busch Stadium. Hundreds of disadvantaged children attend and each gets a gift. * New England FCU, Williston, Vt., announced last week it had donated $20,000 to a homeless shelter, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), which focuses on families with children younger than 18. * Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps' collection drive, receives a lot of attention from credit unions all over the country. One example: Three Connecticut credit union chapters combined their efforts, for the eighth consecutive year. This year 180 individuals from 29 credit unions jointly donated more than 500 toys and $1,591 in cash from chapter coffers and raffle tickets to the toy collection program sponsored locally by the lst Battalion, 25th Marines in Plainville, Conn.


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