MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (1/19/10)--The credit union movement began stepping up to the plate and in two days last week contributed $142,000 to disaster relief efforts for Haiti's 175 credit unions, their staff and volunteers and members affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake. As of 2 p.m. CT Friday, the total collected was at $142,000, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the international charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions. That includes more than $98,736 in donations sent via the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid Disaster Relief fund via www.CUAid.coop. "This isn't just from organizations, either," said Jill Stevenson of NCUF's marketing and communications department. "Donations from credit union employees, volunteers and members are coming in online via www.CUAid.coop in $10, $25, $50, $100 and up. The outpouring of support warms the heart," she told News Now. CUNA Mutual Group announced Friday it is contributing $20,000 and said it would match employees' donations up to $5,000. "This is a disaster of epic proportions, and CUNA Mutual wants to assist in the recovery effort," said Jeff Post, CUNA Mutual president/CEO. "In the true spirit of people helping people, we're proud to be part of the credit union industry stepping up to help residents rebuild their lives." The CO-OP Financial Services and CO-OP Shared Branching are donating $15,000 to CUAid. "The credit union movement is dedicated to uplifting communities, and it is hard to image a case where there is a greater need to financially aid a community than right now," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "We thank our member credit unions for the ability to make this contribution, and we encourage all organizations within our industry to participate." Earlier last week the Credit Union National Association and WOCCU contributed $20,000 and the NCUF $10,000. The efforts are worldwide. The Canadian Cooperative Association, The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and Credit Union Foundation of Australia are all carrying out campaigns, said Breunig. Leagues and their state foundations are also contributing. The Washington Credit Union Foundation approved $5,000. Patrick Harris, director of media relations at the Ohio Credit Union League, noted that the Ohio Credit Union Foundation granted $15,000. "I know individual credit unions in Ohio are making donations, including Wright-Patt. Ohio Catholic FCU is matching each dollar its employees and volunteers are donating," Harris told News Now. Many credit unions are also collecting funds for the American Red Cross's International Disaster Fund. Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., has donated $1,000 and said it is offering members a way to make safe donations through a quick payment link on Members' Online Bill Payer portals. UW CU, Madison, Wis., said members could donate directly from their Web Branch accounts to the fund. Some know what being in an earthquake is like. Bay FCU, Capitola, Calif., established a fund for the Red Cross fund. "The victims of this devastating earthquake are in dire need of assistance," said Bay Federal President/CEO Carrie Birkhofer. Referring to a Loma Prieta Earthquake that devastated the Bay Area in 1989, Birkhofer said she and other Bay Federal employees "recalled the fear and tragedy we experienced and knew we must help these people." Others are finding other ways to help. MoneyGram International, a CUNA Strategic Service provider based in Minneapolis, announced that it is offering special pricing of $1 and similar pricing in other currencies for money transfers to Haiti from any of its 186,000 locations throughout the world. MoneyGram said the level of disaster confronting Haiti will spark an increase in money transfers from people sending financial support to family and friends. The discount will help them maximize their funds sent. "Our priority is to ensure our agents are operational as quickly as possible and to help our customers get the most out of the funds that reach their loved ones." Even MasterCard announced it would waive its interchange fees on Haitian relief donations. WOCCU staff working on a project in Haiti say that cash is one of two priorities right now. See related story, "WOCCU's Haiti staff's priority needs: satellite phones, cash" in today's News Nowfor details on how to donate. Or use the resource links. The 175 credit unions in Haiti serve 404,000 members. The American Red Cross has estimated the death toll could be between 45,000 to 50,000, while Haiti officials estimate it could reach 100,000. Other estimates are much higher (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 15).