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Leftover turkey just begins CUs holiday charity
MADISON, Wis. (11/26/12)--Credit unions have packed away the Thanksgiving leftovers, but their holiday charity efforts are just beginning.

Last week News Now noted a number of credit unions' food drives, just in time for the big turkey dinner. Credit unions give to their communities all year, but during the winter holiday season they go an extra mile to support members of their community who are low-income, have problems such as job loss, or are in need.

Among the credit unions supporting Toys for Tots this year is Saginaw, Mich.-based Catholic FCU (CFCU).  The credit union donated nine Little Tykes Cozy Coupe cars to the cause.  Showing off the cars are, from left: Jeff Jarvis, coordinator of Bay County Toys for Tots, and Bethany Dutcher, vice president of marketing at CFCU. (Photo provided by Catholic FCU)
Some of the credit unions are trying new things this year. For Westbury, N.Y.-based NEFCU, one begins today.  It is launching its "A Season of Giving Charity Donations Contest," which will take place on Facebook with a special application. "Likes" of the page can nominate and vote for their chosen charity. Eligible charities must meet certain community-based goals, NEFCU said in a press release. The organization with the most votes will receive $2,500 donated by the credit union.  Second place will receive $1,500, and third place will receive $1,000. Nominations are due by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 9. Voting will end at 5 p.m.

"There are so many deserving charities doing great work here on Long Island. Who better to decide the winner of this contest than the Long Islanders who support and benefit from their services," said Valerie Garguilo, vice president of marketing and community relations for NEFCU.

Another new program: One month ago, the University of  Iowa Community CU (UICCU), Cedar Falls, Iowa, offered staff the opportunity to give to their favorite charities for the holiday. Employees provided the name and address of their charity of choice and the credit union donated $100 to the organization in that staffer's name. The results: 135 charities in the area received nearly $22,000 from the UICCU program (Iowa City Press-Citizen Nov. 18).

UICCU President/CEO Jeff Disterhoft told local media, "It's a neat thing because ultimately it's a small way of saying thank you to all of our employees. At the same time, it's a chance to support the charities that our employees are most passionate about."

Of the 250 UICCU employees at its nine East Iowa branches, nearly 220 selected a charity. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and the Iowa Children's Museum were two of the most popular charities. UICCU "is a great example of a local group, a local company who really is responsible to the community, who really values being a part of this community and contributes to the community."

Other charity efforts:

  • Woodbury, Minn.-based Postal CU of Minnesota (PCU) has collected 368 coats at its branches throughout the year for the October Salvation Army Coats for Kids Drive. PCU Community Foundation collected $1,500 in Casual for a Cause and other fund raising efforts, and that effort will make 100 more coats for children in need. Thanks to members, staff, and the community, more than 450 children in the Twin Cities metro area will receive new or gently used coats this winter.
  • Tinker FCU in Oklahoma City, Okla., joined forces with Operation Homefront, Oklahoma/Arkansas on Veterans Day to distribute 600 blankets to military families in need. Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to families of U.S. service members and wounded warriors. It received the blankets through donations but had no location to store and distribute the blankets.  TFCU offered its metropolitan building as a place to store the blankets and allow military families to pick them up on Veterans Day.
  • Toys for Tots, a project of the U.S. Marine Corps, will get a lot of help from credit unions around the country.  For example, Service CU, Portsmouth, N.H., just launched its first corporate initiative with Toys for Tots. The credit union collects toys and the Marines will pick up the toys and distribute them through local service agencies in New Hampshire.
  • Catholic FCU in Saginaw, Mich., has donated nine Little Tykes Cozy Coupe cars to Toys for Tots.
  • In Sacramento, Calif., The Golden 1 CU will join the campaign to collect toys for the 2012 Sacramento Sheriff's Toy Project. Until Dec. 5, members and nonmembers can drop off a new, unwrapped toy at Golden 1 branches.
  • United Financial CU in Saginaw, Mich., is collecting donations and "Wish List" items until Dec. 14 at its six locations to benefit the CAN Council and CASA of Saginaw County (Michigan Monitor Nov. 19). Both groups assist children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
Not all the credit union goodwill is about helping the down and out. Sometimes it's just about prompting a smile or making the holidays even better. For example, Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, Va., will help members and non-members record video holiday eGreetings. Beginning Friday, it will offer hours on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 15 at its Woodbridge and Fort Belvoir branches. It will film the senders' holiday message and send the video to them so they can e-mail it to friends, family and loved ones they can't be with during the holidays.
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