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Community service highlights CUs' holiday spirit
MADISON, Wis. (12/28/12)--
Click to view larger image Northwest FCU President/CEO Gerrianne "Winky" Burks, posing as Cindy Lou Who from Whoville, waves to the crowd during the 67th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade in Manassas, Va., earlier this month. She joined 16 other credit union staff, portraying the Whos of Whoville in the Grinch-themed float, "Don't Let Checking Fees Steal Your Christmas." (Photo provided by Northwest FCU)
While many credit unions collected toys to make children's holidays brighter, other credit unions demonstrated their holiday spirit at community-wide events, raising the visibility of their credit unions while doing something special for their communities--and having some fun, too.

Manassas, Va.'s 67th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade featured staff from Herndon-based Northwest FCU (NWFCU), the event's official sponsor, portraying the Whos of Whoville in the Grinch-themed float, "Don't Let Checking Fees Steal Your Christmas."  NWFCU President/CEO Gerrianne "Winky" Burks, appeared as Cindy Lou Who, and 16 other staffers were the Whos of Whoville.

The parade is the largest parade in Northern Virginia, drawing nearly 60,000 spectators and more than 2,000 participants, said the credit union, which has been a parade sponsor since 2009. "This is a great way for Northwest to support the communities we serve while building awareness--plus the response from the crowd for Cindy Lou is heartening," said Burks.

The credit union and the Northwest FCU Foundation also joined in as sponsors and volunteers for an afternoon of food, fun and friendship for local senior citizens. The 21st Annual Senior Holiday Luncheon, drew more than 150 people to the Manassas campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Each guest received a meal and a warm winter scarf.

Other efforts from credit unions:

  • Click to view larger image Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU staff  decorated a "Holiday Wine & Spirits" Christmas tree that was sold for $3,500 at the 23rd Annual Festival of Trees. The proceeds go to the Riverside County Medical Center's Pediatrics Units.  Decorators include, clockwise from left: Gaby Perez, Jacque Thurman, Irene Simone, Cindy Thomas, Tina Covington and Karena Chum. Simone and Chum coordinated this year's efforts by Altura. (Photo provided by Altura CU)
    Altura CU, Riverside, Calif., continued its holiday tradition of raising funds for Riverside County Medical Center's Pediatrics Units as part of the 23rd Annual Festival of the Trees, where 50 local organizations, including Altura, decorate a tree that is sold to businesses as part of the event. Proceeds go to the medical center. Altura staff's "Holiday Wine & Spirits" tree was sold for $3,500. The five-day event typically raises about $500,000 and attracts more than 30,000 people. It  is the main fundraising event for the medical center and a major holiday event for the community. Irene Simone, branch manager, and Karena Chum, business development officer, coordinated Altura's efforts this year. Altura also sponsored Story Time With Santa for children.
  • Lathrup Village, Mich.-based Michigan First CU and Michigan First Foundation donated $500 for needy children, collected $660 and more than 40 new and used coats for an annual coat drive, participated in 96.3 WDVD's "Christmas On Us" to provide $1,000 in gifts and services for five Metro Detroit families, hosted a blood drive for the American Red Cross, and continued its tradition of bringing Santa into its branches during December.
  • Freedom CU in Warminster, Pa., hosted two visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus at its Warminster and Northeast branches. More than 100 members and their children had their photos taken with Santa. Freedom CU's employees were on hand to print the free photos and hand out candy canes. Freedom also collected boxes of nonperishable food items and toiletries and donated $400, all for St. John's Pantry.
  • Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif., sponsored the City of Downey's annual Holiday Parade by providing $5,000 to the parade as its major sponsor. The event was held Dec. 2. "We have been a visible member of the Downey community for the last 74 years," said Financial Partners CU CEO Nader Moghaddam, noting that the credit union has "seen the community develop economically and culturally into the wonderful place that it is today. Our sponsorship is a demonstration of our commitment to the future of this dynamic community."
  • Virginia CU, Richmond, Va. used the holidays as an opportunity to provide budgeting advice to the community in its press release "How to stretch your dollars during the holidays." It provided advice on stretching the budget (don't shop for yourself, keep a list of what you have bought, make your own gifts); spending (research for the best deals, use coupons, use statement rewards, keep receipts and ask for refunds); and saving for next year (open a separate savings account, keep records of what you spend this year, and sign up for an automatic savings program based on debit card purchases).
  • Click to view larger image Employees from TruMark Financial CU, Trevose, Pa., donated 670 pounds of food to the Food & Nutrition Network, a division of the Bucks County Opportunity Council, Lower Bucks County. The donated food will provide 509 meals for families living below the poverty level. (Photo provided by TruMark Financial CU)
    Los Angeles FCU employees volunteered to assemble food crates at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. They worked with several groups to produce 800 food crates totaling 20,000 pounds of food that included fresh corn, carrots, cabbage and bell peppers distributed to more than 500 needy families in L.A. County. After assembling the crates, LAFCU President/CEO John Dea presented L.A. Regional Foodbank CEO Michael Flood with a $1,000 donation, to be used for hunger relief in the county.
  • Pensacola, Fla.-based Gulf Winds FCU committed $25,000 to help MANNA fulfill its mission of feeding the hungry. The donation was presented to MANNA last month at its "Fill the Mayflower" Holiday Food Drive at Cordova Mall in Pensacola. The non-profit organization distributes the food through six pantries in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.  "We are experiencing unprecedented demands in service and have had a food shortage," said MANNA Executive Director DeDe Flounlacker. "This generous donation by Gulf Winds literally had our team jumping up and down with excitement because we know the impact it will have on our efforts and the communities we serve."


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