Archived Story

Credit unions unite in effort to give back

Published 9:36am Friday, October 9, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Often the world of personal banking institutions can be a competitive place.

Competitive rates, competitive products and competition for prospective clients’ business.
But in a stride against the stereotype, five Niles area credit unions are coming together for the good of the community.

Representatives for the Greater Niles Community Federal, United Federal, Four Flags Area, Berrien Teachers, and Teachers Credit Unions have come together to announce the “Credit Unions Working Together, Coats for Kids” coat drive Oct. 12-24.

This is the first time each of the participating credit unions have come together for such an event, said Greater Niles’ Dave VanStrien.

“We actually started talking about a way to promote credit unions,” he explained.

But the conversation quickly turned from trying to come up with a promotional product to an effort to give back to their community.

A donation box will be set up at each of the participating credit unions for items including coats, mittens, gloves, hats, scarves and boots as well as any monetary donations.

The items will be donated to both the Brandywine and Niles Community School district where school officials will go about distributing the donations to those children and families in need.

United Federal’s Kent Figy said the items would all be taken to Concord Cleaners and professionally cleaned, “and then we’ll take them all to Niles and Brandywine schools.”

The coats and other items will come in handy for the fall and winter seasons, as the temperatures drop, for those kids who may not have a coat to guard them from the cold.

The time of year, Figy speculated, might have been just what led to the suggestion of a coat drive. That was followed by a conversation, he said, with both school district superintendents.

“They really hit home with us about the need for this,” said Figy.

The coat drive also comes at a good time for “those who have coats for their kids that may be too small, that they can donate.”

Though the boxes will be out for donations for two weeks, as a final push, members of each credit union will be on hand for collection at the Niles Riverfront Park Amphitheater on the final day of the drive, Oct. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The drive is being supported by both The UPS Store and Concord Custom Cleaners.

VanStrien added that it was pretty easy getting all of the credit unions on board for the project.
Asked if this is an event they’d like to see repeated in some way each year, VanStrien and Figy both said they hoped so.

“This is kind of the first thing that we’ve done,” Figy said. “But we hope so.”

Donations can be dropped off at any of the following credit union locations:

Greater Niles Community Federal Credit Union
507 East Main Street, Niles 684-6005

BTCU – Your Community Credit Union
1501 South 11th Street, Niles 684-6900

Teachers Credit Union
1500 South 11th Street, Niles 687-6113 ext. 5606

United Federal Credit Union
123 Sycamore Street, Niles 684-1151 ext. 5220

Four Flags Area Credit Union
1012 South 11th Street, Niles 684-6512

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