Despite the back-office burden of handling thousands of pennies for a local charity drive, Terry Belcoe, president/CEO of the $137 million North Coast Credit Union in Bellingham, Wash., insists his CU is showing the way in demonstrating community commitment.
Belcoe’s credit union agreed to be the stopping-off point for a local campaign, which by coincidence has received reams of favorable state and national publicity and was launched by a local minister to benefit the Skagit Community Action Agency with $1 million in pennies.
So far only $5,000 has been collected in the drive that began last year in which residents drop off wrapped up coins for the agency.
The "Mountains of Hope" campaign and the CU’s participation have drawn media coverage from Chicago to Seattle following circulation of an Associated Press report.
"I know I am none too popular with my tellers and back-office staff, but my employees are enthusiastic about helping out," said Belcoe.
The drive to collect the pennies is led by a Mt. Vernon minister, Randy O’Donnell, who initially delivered a wheelbarrow full of pennies to a CU branch as an installment on the $1 million goal.
O’Donnel has said he hopes the fund will generate enough interest income to provide a steady source of revenue for the Skagit agency, which helps families with emergency food, fuel and clothing. Belcoe said he was unsure how long the campaign would last, "but we’re ready to go into the summer with it."
"I think sometimes we get so caught up in celebrating the heart and soul of being credit unions that we may claim the [moral] high ground as a given, almost a ‘birthright’ but it is something that must be won and held through hard work."