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Oxford FCU partners to help students open checking accounts
MEXICO, MAINE (10/31/11)--Through a partnership between Oxford FCU (OFCU), Mexico, Maine, and Oxford Hills Middle School (OHMS), 285 eighth grade students learned how to open and use a checking account from financial professionals at the credit union.

Susan Graves, vice president of branch administration at the $134 million asset credit union, and volunteers from the credit union visited Oxford Hills Middle school for two days of instruction and hands on activities, using a workbook and Power Point presentation to teach the basics of using a checking account.

"OFCU is committed to inspiring and enabling financial responsibility starting at an early age," said Cindy Giroux, vice president of human resources and marketing at OFCU. "We feel it's important in this age of technology, to instill good, basic financial habits that can serve as a foundation upon which to build a better financial future."

Oxford FCU is in the third year of partnering with Oxford Hills Middle School where the mission is to provide financial literacy education to students. The classroom instruction taught the 8th graders how to write a check, endorse checks, fill out deposit slips, balance their checkbooks and use a debit card.

As a follow up to the classroom lessons, OFCU arranged a day of continued financial learning at Harvest Hill Farms, where students mixed fun and adventure together, as they applied their new financial skills to maneuver through the "Big Corn Maze Adventure". The corn maze wasn't "just a walk in the stalks," the maze is a labyrinth of passages where students stopped at "Checkbook Stations" strategically located within the maze manned by a teacher from OHMS.

Students were required to write a check, make an entry in their checkbook register or perform some other task they learned in class, in order to proceed through the maze. The credit union supplied each student with a checkbook and register, calculator and pencil, and a backpack bag to carry all their supplies.

OFCU simultaneously conducted three other events at Harvest Hill Farms that reinforced the student's new financial literacy skills. The events included a history of Harvest Hill Farms and a visit to the Petting Farm, where students learned the cost of owning a pet and wrote checks to pay for the upkeep of their own pretend pet. And just to keep it fun, students learned and sang the OFCU jingle which will be posted to You Tube for all to watch and vote on. Each student attended all four events at the farm, as they rotated throughout the day, stopping only for lunch.

"It took a lot of work to pull the event together," said Carlene Treadwell, guidance counselor at OHMS. "But OFCU, with help from teacher volunteers and some good planning, provided both classroom instruction and a day at Harvest Hill Farms for some really valuable education."

"The project began as a question of how OFCU could work with Harvest Hill Farms to help support the community, and after some brainstorming and planning, turned into this fun educational experience," said Kim Davis, OFCU marketing coordinator. "As part of OFCU's sponsorship with Harvest Hill Farms, Susan Graves and I worked with Harvest Hill Farms' marketing and educational coordinator, John Wallace, to create the custom corn maze stations, relating them to the financial literacy theme for the day.

"The kids had fun, and at the same time acquired some great knowledge and skills," she added. "OFCU is proud to provide these kids with financial literacy education; it's what credit unions are all about, helping people and the supporting our community."


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