CUs Give Parents, Returning Students a Helping Hand

Employees, members are quick to offer support as school year starts.

September 5, 2013

Georgia United CU

Panola Way Elementary School Principal Ethan Suber (left) is excited about the generous donation of school supplies from Georgia United CU. At right is Marcus McKay, manager of the credit union's South DeKalb branch.

Credit unions nationwide have shown a lot of class at back-to-school time, donating clothing and supplies, offering low-cost loans—and even hosting an online chat session to address members’ financial concerns.

Georgia United Credit Union in Duluth, for instance, teamed up with a local radio station for a school supply drive to meet the growing need of local students and teachers.

Members dropped off 8,251 new school supplies, plus cash donations, at the $974 million asset credit union.

Other credit unions making a difference:

Cinfed Credit Union in Cincinnati, which held an online chat session called “Back to School Live Connect” to address members’ concerns about student loans, financial aid, and more.

Credit union representatives gave free advice for one hour, answering questions such as:

Diamond CU
Participating in Diamond CU's school supply drive were (from left) employees Jamie Trego, Monica McCoach, and Shawn Thorpe; Pottstown Family Center's Megan Schmierer, Jessica McCartin and her son, and Rob Gaskill.

CASE Credit Union in Lansing, Mich., offers back-to-school loans “whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or the last year of college.”

The loans can be used to purchase clothes, computers, school supplies, and required school uniforms. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $5,000, and have no application fees or prepayment penalties.

Arsenal Credit Union in Arnold, Mo., collected more than 1,800 school supply and food items over a three-week period thanks to the generosity of members and employees. The credit union donated the items to low-income schools and to two food pantries.

To encourage Arnold-area members and residents to participate, Arsenal parked a large school bus, decorated with a “Help Us Fill The Bus” sign, in front of its headquarters during much of the donation period.

“Back-to-school time can be very stressful and the financial burden of getting necessities even worse,” says Lori Crutchley, the credit union’s vice president of human resources, who coordinated the back-to-school drive. “Our back-to-school drive was a great example of employees and members pulling together, making a substantial donation and giving the items directly to those who can use them.

“No stress or worries for the children who showed up to school without school supplies,” she adds. “We took care of them.”

Diamond Credit Union, Pottstown, Pa., also stuffed a bus with eight boxes of school supplies donated by employees and destined for Family Services of Montgomery County, reports John Faust, Diamond’s CEO.

“Our employees are always quick to offer their support to the United Way,” he says. “They know these donations are staying right here in Pottstown and they are all excited to make a local child’s back-to-school experience better.”

Co-Op Services Credit Union held its third-annual backpack drive, setting up donation boxes in all of its branch lobbies.

Donations were distributed to area schools through Volunteers of America and its Operation Backpack program.

OMNI Community Credit Union, Battle Creek, Mich. It donated $3,000 to the Charitable Union to provide uniforms and other clothing for students at four local schools.

This is the second year the $305 million asset credit union has supported this program, which provides clothing items for more than 2,000 students.

“We hope our contribution will start the school year on a happy note for them,” says Ted Parsons, OMNI Community’s CEO.