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Special Report: CUs Load Backpacks, Busses In Back-to-school Drives

MADISON, Wis. (7/31/13)--

Click to view larger image Northwest FCU volunteers move carts filled with school supplies purchased with donations to its Backpack Drive, in an effort to benefit school students in the northern Virginia communities served by the Herndon, Va.-based credit union.

For credit unions, doing good in the community is a year-round job. Walk into one at any time of year, and a community project--often more than one--will be taking place. At this time of year, credit unions across the nation are gearing up to help students get off to a good start for the school year.  Many are loading backpacks and busses in back-to-school drives.
Northwest FCU, Herndon, Va., explained why the $2.5 billion asset credit union and its Northwest FCU Foundation, is sponsoring its Backpack Drive to collect school supplies for kids in need.

Click to view larger image Volunteers from Herndon,  Va.-based Northwest FCU take a break from sorting school supplies for the credit union's Backpack Drive. Donations will be distributed throughout the credit union's service areas through the Fairfax County Collect for Kids organization. (Photos provided by Northwest FCU)

"For many students, it's a tradition to mark the new school year by shopping for a backpack and school supplies, said Linda Rogus, NWFCU Foundation executive director.  "But for some families, we know that can be tough, especially given other school expenses. Our Backpack Drive helps fill this gap."

Branches in Herndon, Vienna, Chantilly, Leesburg and Gainesville are collecting donations through Aug. 23. The Fairfax County Collect for Kids will distribute the donations to students in need and to kids attending schools near branch locations in Loudown and Prince William counties. 
A new school year is an exciting time, and every child should start it off with the supplies and materials they need," said Chris McDonald, NWFCU president/CEO, noting that NWFCU will "double the community's generosity this year by matching all the monetary donations we receive."
In Indianapolis last Saturday, 17 branches of Indiana Members CU, which has $1.3 billion in assets, gave away thousands of filled backpacks in the Indy BackPack Attack program.  Last year more than 33,600 students received backpacks through the program (Indianapolis Star July 27). Backpacks are filled with crayons, pencils, alarm clocks, hygiene products, folders, notebooks and other items.  More than two dozen Indiana school districts began classes this week.
In Livonia, Mich., $402 million asset Co-op Services CU launched its fifth annual Backpack Drive, with partners Volunteers of America, WDVD-FM and WJBK-TV. The drive runs through Aug. 16. The credit union's eight branches throughout metro Detroit are collecting new backpacks and supplies. Volunteers of America and its Operation Backpack initiative will distribute the packs. The credit union also will participate in the annual "Stuff-A-Bus" event Thursday through Sunday. Its staff and its Rock Star mascot will be on hand to accept supply donations.
"By working with schools through our student credit unions and financial literacy programs, we understand how important these donations are and the number of families that need assistance," Jeremy Cybulski, youth and community development coordinator at the credit union, told Press & Guide (July 24). He noted the supplies make a positive difference in the lives of children who otherwise would not have the essentials to start the school year.
Other efforts:

  • Burnsville, Minn.-based US FCU, with $897 million assets, is sponsoring 107.1 FM radio station's Back to School Drive to benefit the Caring Tree, which will distribute packs loaded with school supplies.  Eight branches are collecting items, and community members who donate with supplies or money receive an exclusive offer from USFCU ( July 26).
  • Black Hills FCU in Rapid City, S.D., is helping more than 5,000 area students in more than 60 area schools in 12 communities return to the classroom with supplies through its 17th Annual School Supply Drive.  The $967 million asset credit union is accepting donations through Aug. 19. It is also selling raffle tickets for prizes and accepting monetary donations. All proceeds will purchase school supplies (Rapid City Journal July 30).
  • Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C., noted that its Fill the Bus School Supply Drive helps not only students, but teachers as well. Teachers spend up to $700 per year of their own money on classroom supplies,  said the $1.6 billion asset credit union (The Chronicle July 25).  With the supply drive, Truliant will help teachers from several high-need schools save their money. The supplies will support students in kindergarten through 12th grade.  Collection boxes are at Truliant Member Financial Centers in three states.
  • Houston Metropolitan FCU, a $40 million asset credit union in Texas, is co-hosting the North Houston 100 lb. Challenge Back to School Supply Drive and Event with the Wade Smith Foundation to collect 100 pounds of school supplies. HMFCU's Tidwell and downtown branches  are accepting donations until Aug. 30.  On Aug. 10, Pro Bowl Offensive Lineman Wade Smith and teammates from the Houston Texans will make appearances.  Also, HMFCU is adopting one family from each participating school to receive school clothes, uniforms, socks and shoes.
  • Wichita, Kan.-based Credit Union of America, with $502 million in assets, has teamed up with KAKEland and the Salvation Army to collect supplies at CUA branches until Aug. 25 in the area's KAKEland School Supply Landslide.  Last year the landslide served more than 10,000 students.

Outreach projects like these are another way credit unions prove the value of credit unions to their community and members. Raising awareness about the value of credit unions is a key component of the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues' Unite for Good campaign toward the strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."  For more information, use the links.


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