CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Joining "in support of our fallen brethren," firefighter credit unions from across the U.S. and backed by CUNA used their Web sites and direct mail last week to drum up donations from their members to support the families of the victims of the calamitous June 18 warehouse fire.
"This has been a very emotional and difficult time for us," declared Bill Kennedy, president/CEO of the $2.3 million South Carolina Firefighters Credit Union of Columbia, a CU formed only a year ago. "Our phones have been ringing off the hook."
Joined by his two-member staff, Kennedy traveled here for the June 22 memorial services for the nine firefighters killed in the inferno and on that "it was indeed wonderful to see such support from 10,000 people who jammed that coliseum."
In CUNA's gesture to support firefighter CUs, the National Credit Union Foundation in cooperation with state leagues and foundations said it has activated for the first time since last year its new CU Aid online fundraising program to collect member contributions.
CU Aid was debuted at the beginning of 2006 for hurricane relief but the hurricane season turned mild and as a result there was no need for the internet hookup which has links to individual state league and foundation sites, said Steve Bosack, deputy director of NCUF.
CU Aid had been considered for the Kansas tornadoes earlier this spring, but there was no major damage to CU facilities
Bosack said a new donation form at the CU Aid Web site allows donors to designate their contribution to either the Firefighters Memorial Service or the Firefighters Family Fund.
Grant Sheehan, president of Miami Firefighters CU and coordinator of the Firefighters Credit Union Conference, said it was particularly heartwarming to see CUs from San Francisco to Charlotte and Boston take part in fund-raising "to honor these heroes."
Kennedy of the South Carolina Firefighters CU said also "we truly appreciate the commitment of the National Credit Union Foundation and supporters throughout the credit union movement to honor our heroes."