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Schools in with help from CUs
MADISON, Wis. (9/12/12)--School is in session, and a number of cities have students sporting new backpacks, donning new duds, and working with new school supplies, thanks to projects across the country involving credit unions.

An overflowing Dollar Dog Bus at Chetco FCU, Harbor, Ore., finished its 2012 Stuff the Bus with school supplies for the Brookings-Harbor area elementary, middle and high schools. From left are: Allan Stewart, Maine volunteer; Lorie Botnen, CFCU Brookings-Harbor Branch manager; Mr. Martindale, principal of BHHS; Mrs. Lipski, Azalea principal; Adam VanCleave, CFCU marketing; Mrs. Chirinian, Kalmiopsis principal; and Brian Hodge, District 17-C school superintendent. (Photo provided by Chetco FCU)
Here are just a few examples of the help credit unions provided to help ensure students get off to a good start for the academic year.

During July and August, Co-op Services CU in Livonia, Mich., recently collected more than 60 new backpacks filled with school supplies--folders, notebooks, pens, scissor, pencils and more--as part of an area-wide donation drive in partnership with Volunteers of America Michigan, 96.3 WDVD and Fox 2 Detroit, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Sept. 10).

The backpacks will be distributed through Volunteers of America Michigan to students of low-income families.

"We have our credit union members and team members to thank for making our fourth annual Backpack Drive an outstanding success," said Jeremy Cybulski, youth and community development coordinator for the $415 million asset credit union.  "We also received a generous donation from the Downriver Wanderers Classic Car Club that allowed us to purchase extra backpacks and supplies."

Heritage Trust FCU, Charleston, S.C., donated more than 5,000 school supply items to the Lowcountry Orphan Relief Back-to-School Drive. In participation with Charleston Chapter of Credit Unions' 2012 charitable initiatives, Heritage Trust served as the collection site for employees and community members to donate new and gently used school clothing and supplies.

"We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this noteworthy endeavor and to give back to our local community," said David D'Annunzio, Heritage Trust senior vice president/chief financial officer.

Chetco FCU (CFCU), Harbor, Ore., co-sponsored its annual 2012 Stuff the Bus and helped the community fill CFCU's Dollar Dog bus to overflowing with school supplies for the Brookings-Harbor area elementary, middle and high schools. Throughout the week, CFCU's Dollar Dog bus was parked at four locations and a similar sized school bus was parked at three locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for the community to fill with school supplies for the students.

Each day local businesses sponsored the event, and volunteers from local service organizations manned the busses to collect the supplies. They had a ready list of supplies needed--pencils, pens, backpacks, rulers, crayons, makers, scissors and glue sticks, highlighters, spiral notebooks, protractors, flash drives and more. More than $2,000 was collected and a record number of school supplies stuffed the bus to overflowing. 

"This is a heart-warming event for the community; it's exciting to be able to help kids with the supplies they need to start their school year off right," said Lorie Botnen, CFCU Harbor Branch manager and coordinator of the event. "The Dollar Dog bus definitely has a big impact on the attention this promotion receives; community folks know to look for the bus to make their donation." 

District School Superintendent Brian Hodge noted the "Stuff the Bus donations were HUGE…To a child there is nothing like coming to school with a new backpack full of supplies. You make our students' educational experience richer and more meaningful."

Jeremy Cybulski of Co-op Services CU, Livonia, Mich., and Emilie Rohrbach of Volunteers of America Michigan sort through some of the more than 60 donated backpacks filled with school supplies to be delivered to students in low-income families (Michigan Monitor Sept. 10).  Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League).
In Fall River, Mass., St. Anne's of Fall River CU donated 47 backpacks of supplies to the John J. Doran Elementary School there. Employees donated the supplies and more than 20 backpacks, while St. Anne's President/CEO Ross Upton matched the backpack count. Upton also donated 47 credit union lunch totes for the backpacks, noting that "anything we can do to assist our future leaders is money well spent."

St. Anne's also donated two big boxes of school supplies to Carney Academy in New Bedford. A fire in July damaged five classrooms, and credit union employees stepped up to collect replacement items for teachers to use in the classrooms..

Northumberland County Schools FCU in Milton, Pa., also held its fourth annual Stuff the Buss campaign in July and August. The $17 million asset credit union collected backpacks, binders, folders, notebooks, pens, scissors, pencils, index cards, flash cards, book covers and other supplies in a "bus" located in the credit union's lobby. It promoted the supply drive this year through Facebook, its website, its lobby, and through employees, according to Brenda L. Raker, loan officer.

Great Lakes CU (GLCU) in North Chicago, Ill., partnered with 102.3 WXLC radio to Stuff the Bus with a school bus on site for the first three Fridays at a designated GLCU branch for collecting donations. WXLC performed live broadcasts at the sites.  The $543 million asset credit union purchased the first $250 worth of supplies for Kenneth Murphy Elementary in Beach Park, West Elementary in Zion and Clearview Elementary in Waukegan. The generosity of GLCU employees, members and the public produced more than $800 in cash donations. COSTCO in Mettawa contributed 200 backpacks to the cause (Lake County News-Sun Aug. 30).

In Portland, Ore., OnPoint Community CU donated $5,000 to support the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County school supply drive. OnPoint collected cash donations and school supplies through Sept. 3. A special collection event was held at Moshofsky Center, Eugene, on Sept. 1 before the University of Oregon football season opener. "We want to help ensure that all students have the tools they need to start the year off right," said OnPoint President/CEO Rob Stuart, noting that the credit union was founded by teachers.

Members First CU, Midland, Mich., partnered with radio station WIOG 102.5 to collect school supplies for children in the counties served by the $320 million asset credit union. Gladwin Shelterhouse appreciated the efforts, noting, "Anything that can improve students' lives and make things a little easier is truly appreciated."

In Burnsville, Minn., US FCU partnered with Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP), an organization that serves low-income residents in the area, for a Back-to-School Program by holding a school supply drive. With support from the community, VEAP will work to serve more than 3,000 students this year with school supplies. USFCU collected more than 140 pounds of school supplies, including 21 backpacks.

In Baton Rouge, La., Neighbors FCU helped EBR Schools kick off its inaugural Back 2 School Expo for the school year at McKinley Middle Magnet school. The expo offered booths ranging from free back-to-school haircuts to information about EBR school resources, such as school websites, registration, attendance policies, transportation routes, and information on school lunch applications and nutrition.  The event provided more than 500 people with information to start off the school year.


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