SANTA ANA, Calif. -- What better way to celebrate Orange County's Credit Union's 70th anniversary than by helping to bring a dream to life.
Turning 70 gave the credit union an opportunity to demonstrate how it is a true local partner by organizing a community spirit project to support the new endangered species carousel at the Santa Ana Zoo in Prentice Park. The zoo's new interactive exhibit will help educate the community about the value of environmental conservation through the preservation of endangered animals.
Orange County's CU and members donated over $12,500 to sponsor the new exhibit. The funds will be designated for the sea otter and the Hawaiian monk seal, which are two of the 33 animals featured on the carousel.
"Both marine animals are endangered species and have a great tie into our kids program here at the credit union--the sand dollar savings club," said Orange County's CU Chief Operating Officer Lynda Savoit.
To help raise the funds, Orange County's CU branches made commemorative T-shirts and plush toy sea otters available to members for donations of $10 or more. Members could also just make cash donations, which the credit union matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000 total. In addition, to further promote the community spirit project, the credit union sponsored a zoo-themed decorating contest for its 11 branches throughout the Orange County area. As staffers brought various parts of the zoo to life in each of their branches, members enjoyed their creativity.
To help make the dream of the carousel a reality, Orange County's CU teamed up with the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo.
"We are so appreciative of this partnership and look forward to future collaborations with the credit union," said Executive Director of Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo Cathi Decker. The Santa Ana Zoo was selected for the project because it shares roots in Santa Ana where the credit union was founded in 1938 and serves as home to its corporate headquarters.
According to Savoit, raising money for the exhibit was just the beginning, as members and their families were also invited to a fun-filled day at the Santa Ana Zoo. Members could choose from four dates: July 27, July 28, Aug. 3 or Aug. 4 to enjoy free admission, a free train ride, souvenir photo, monkey face art and a free picnic lunch. Over 6,000 members and their guests attended the 70th anniversary celebration. Orange County's CU members were also treated to a pre-opening day tour of the new endangered species carousel before it officially opened to the public over the Labor Day weekend.
"It was our way of saying thanks to our members for the trust they've placed in us for the past 70 years," said Orange County's CU CEO Shruti Miyashiro. "The Santa Ana Zoo serves as an exceptional local venue to fulfill our mission to be a trusted financial resource for members through all seasons of life. The Santa Ana Zoo is a place to have fun, a place to learn and a place to be enjoyed by people of all ages."
Founded in 1952, the Santa Ana Zoo occupies over 20 acres in an urban oasis tucked away in Orange County. It specializes in over 150 neo-tropic animals from South America and hosts more than 270,000 guests annually. The zoo features the world's smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset and the world's largest rodent, the capybara.