NAPERVILLE, Ill. (12/26/12)--Giving isn't just a holiday-time event for many credit unions and their leagues. A case in point: Staff from the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) concluded another year of giving to charities and giftwrapping its community service with its last project for the year: Providing toys for the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation (WCPF).
The toy drive was one of several charitable actions that included ICUL's annual food drive, blood donation drives, monthly "jeans days" fundraising and direct financial donations to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the state.
WCPF works with the Illinois Department of Family Services to ensure needy children receive gifts for the holidays. Each year, the foundation provides for about 14,000 children who otherwise would not receive holiday gifts, said ICUL.
Other 2012 activities included ICUL's fourth annual summer food drive, which this year benefitted the Loaves and Fishes Pantry in Naperville. The pantry serves DuPage County, and during the fiscal year, which ended in June, it provided nourishment to 112,468 individuals in 28,824 distributions. Loaves and Fishes distributes more than 60,000 pounds of groceries to about 600 families each week. At the time of the food drive, family visits were up 58% and total new families were up 71% over 2011. The pantry served a record number of people because of its collaboration with the community.
Also, the league initiates Pathways to Empowerment programs to assist people with issues that prevent them from being self-sufficient. The on-site programs are offered by partner agencies on topics such as English language proficiency, nutrition education, basic financial skills, job search support, income tax preparation and public benefits enrollment.
ICUL staff also provided 35 units of blood for Heartland Blood Centers, an independent, not-for-profit blood center serving 38 hospitals in 12 counties in northeastern Illinois, as well as northwestern Indiana. Heartland collects more than 172,000 units of blood each year.
What began as participating in Children's Memorial Hospital's "Miracle Jeans Day" in 2011 has developed into a monthly activity at the league. Staff choose an organization to support each month. As a result, nearly $3,900 was donated to local and national social service organizations this year.
Additional financial support was provided on behalf of the Illinois Credit Union System, with 14 food pantries throughout the state receiving $200 each, for a total $2,800 donation.
"This continued to be a year of great need for many people," said ICUL President/CEO Dan Plauda. "Rather than sending out holiday greetings, the Illinois Credit Union System for the fourth year in a row chose, on behalf of its member credit unions, to coordinate, organize and participate in these activities. We feel blessed to have been able to give back to our communities."