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Tornado is first time CUAid in two-at-once relief campaigns
MADISON, Wis. and JOPLIN, Mo. (5/26/11)--Tornadoes last month in Alabama and the South as well as this week's in Missouri, Wisconsin and Oklahoma have marked a first for CUAid, says the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). It's the first time the credit unions' disaster relief program has run two relief campaigns simultaneously.
Click to view larger image Although it had minor tornado damage, Postal Federal Community CU's Joplin, Mo., branch location and employees are aiding neighbors affected by Sunday's massive tornado. The credit union is providing computer and internet use, a charging station, and refreshments. One of the appliances charged was an electric wheelchair, said Steve Pierson, president/CEO.
Click to view larger image Postal Federal Community CU, located two blocks from the major tornado devastation in Joplin, Mo., opened its drive-through and ATM Tuesday for business. The lobby remains closed until windows are replaced and other repairs are made. (Photo provided by Postal Federal Community CU)
CUAid had raised more than $50,000 by Wednesday to help credit unions, their employees and members in Sunday's Joplin, Mo., tornado, which damaged four credit unions, one severely. (To make contributions to the fund, use the link.) Meanwhile, a campaign begun after Alabama's devastation by a rash of tornadoes in April is still running, said Christopher Morris, director of communications at NCUF. is the online disaster relief system activated by NCUF to raise funds for credit union people affected by disasters. "For the Alabama tornadoes we have raised close to $75,000," said Morris. "At the moment, we still have both campaigns open, and this is the first time we have ever had two disaster relief campaigns open simultaneously." He noted that "a large number of the donations have been $20 and $50…even a few for $5." Most are from individuals. However, credit union organizations "have donated more in sum. We've truly seen a groundswell of support so far for our fellow credit union people struck by tragedy," he told News Now. Credit unions at ground zero in Joplin are starting to clean up as well as provide relief to their neighbors. Employees of Postal Federal Community CU (PFCCU) are using its Joplin location to aid neighbors by providing computer and internet use, a charging station and refreshments. The 2007 S. Sergeant branch, located in a residential neighborhood two blocks from where much of the major devastation took place, suffered minor damage and was closed on Monday. With the help of generators, the drive-through and ATM reopened Tuesday. However, the lobby will remain closed while windows are replaced and other repairs are made, said the credit union. Employees of the credit union have been walking through area neighborhoods passing out food and water and inviting those without power to visit the branch to recharge. Eight employees volunteered to help on Wednesday, with more planning to do so throughout the coming weeks. "We were hoping those living near our Joplin branch would be able to benefit by using our electricity to charge their cell phones," said Steve Pierson, president/CEO of PFCCU. He noted that "one woman was so grateful to be able to charge her electric wheelchair--something that hadn't even crossed our minds, but we were glad to do it. There's a reason that this branch was left standing, so now we want to use it to help our neighbors in any way possible." He said the credit union will offer the services to its Joplin neighbors as long as necessary. PFCCU's Springfield and Nixa branches are drop-off locations for 88.3 The Wind radio station's relief effort. For the next few weeks, they will collect prepaid Visa and MasterCard gift cards, which will be donated to Convoy of Hope. All Ozarks credit unions are participating in this effort.
Click to view larger image Bridgeton, Mo.-based Vantage CU has donated $2,000 to the CUAid disaster relief fund activated by the National Credit Union Foundation to help credit unions in Joplin, Mo. Its branches also are donating to American Red Cross and collecting personal items and spare change from members. President/CEO Hubert Hoosman (center, back row) is shown with staff wearing red to support the Red Cross. (Photo provided by Vantage CU)
In St. Louis, Vantage CU President/CEO Hubert Hoosman Jr. announced Wednesday that his credit union is sending $2,000 to NCUF to assist in emergency relief for Joplin's credit unions. The credit union said Hoosman is grateful that both the New Year's Eve and Good Friday tornadoes that hit the St. Louis area left Vantage CU relatively unscathed. "We see the destruction literally all around us and we count our blessings that we were spared," he said. "We just could not pass up an opportunity to join NCUF in such a worthwhile and timely cause." Employees at the credit union had a dress-down day Wednesday, which by midday had netted $1,400. Proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. They also are collecting toiletries and have spare change jars in the credit unions branches so members can contribute.
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