Opportunity In The Back-To-School Season

Credit unions are helping schools replenish supplies and ensuring students start the year right.


August is an exciting time for students and educators around the country. It’s a month that marks uncharted territory. A fresh start. A new beginning. As benefactors of their local communities, credit unions are playing their part — and paying their fair share — in helping ensure schools have the resources they need to start everyone off right.

Already, credit unions have collected and donated thousands of dollars in cash and supplies to support education. From pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters to notebooks, index cards, poster board, and folders, communities are sharing the expense of the back-to-school season, even when dollars are tight at home. Don’t believe me? Check out these highlights from local news sources:

  • Indiana Members Credit Union ($1.4B, Indianapolis, IN) raised more than $77,000 during several fundraising initiatives, according to the Indianapolis Star. The money will help purchase more than 3,500 backpacks and 87,500 school supplies. “There is a great need which can be met with the support of local businesses,” CEO Ron Collier told the paper. “We encourage others to help us in this effort to aid our children with their education.”
  • Parkside Credit Union ($78.7M, Livonia, MI) this year raised more than $1,000 for the computer lab at Burger School for Students with Autism.
  • Northwest Georgia Credit Union ($63.2M, Rome, GA) is collecting school supplies for the residents of Open Door Children’s Home, an organization dedicated to “dependent, neglected, or abused children.”
  • Anoka Hennepin Credit Union ($139.0M, Coon Rapids, MN) is collecting school supplies for teachers in local school districts. Each year, teachers in the local school districts spend hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket on supplies to furnish their classrooms, said CEO Jeff Claussen in an ABC Newspaper report. This year, they might get away with spending just a little less.
  • Lake Michigan Credit Union (2.6B, Grand Rapids, MI) is sponsoring a supply drive it has coined the “One Pencil Project.” If past success is any indication of future potential, the credit union will surely surpass last year’s collection, which supplied more than 300 teachers in 45 different schools.  
  • Teachers Credit Union ($2.3B, South Bend, IN) is partnering with fast food hamburger joint Culver’s to collect supplies for needy children via the Lake Central Education Foundation and area community schools.
  • Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union ($151.8M, West Monroe, LA) is sponsoring its eighth Sunny School supply drive. “We know if we can give these students what they need it will empower them to be better students and ultimately 10 to 20 years down the road they will take care of us," SVP Mistie Caples told The New Star. "They are our future workforce."
  • Corporate America Family Credit Union ($572.1M, Elgin, IL) is continuing an eight-year run collecting supplies in support of Project Backpack, which provides school items for a local elementary.
  • First Trust Credit Union ($92.5M, Michian City, IN) this year combined a member appreciation day with a school supply and “milk money” drive to benefit disadvantaged children at Hilltop Neighborhood House.

Back-to-school time can put stress on members’ pocketbooks, no doubt. But even if the credit union has no formal plans to raise donations or gather supplies, you can still make a difference with budget-conscious parents just by helping them learn what resources are available to them. According to taxadmin.org, 17 states are sponsoring tax-free shopping days in August to help alleviate the expense of necessary supplies, clothes, and — in some cases — electronics. Of course, maximum cost restrictions do apply. And for the even more frugal, U.S. News & World Report recently ran advice on 5 Ways to Shop Tax-Free, With or Without Tax Holidays.

Perhaps my favorite deal of this year’s back to school season is JC Penney’s free haircut offer. All through August, children in kindergarten through sixth grade can choose their back-to-school 'do at no cost to their parents.

"Times are hard," Robin Bragg, salon leader at the store’s Billing, MT, location, told KULR8. "Say you have five kids … to be able to spend that on their other needs … is just awesome."

Billings’ JC Penney expects to cut more than 700 heads of hair this month. That’s a lot of shavings … er, savings.

Feel free to share your back-to-school efforts with other credit unions in the comment box below.


Aug. 15, 2012



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