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WEST PALM BEACH- The holidays are here and credit unions are shifting into high gear to share with others. Arizona Federal Credit Union employees have collected over 39,000 food items to feed the Arizona Valley’s hungry during its Family Holiday Food Drive. This is the second year Arizona FCU has participated in the food drive and it exceeded last year’s donation by 7,000 cans. “With all of the attention being paid to national and international causes we knew the need would be greater this year so we really stepped up our efforts” said Arizona FCU Marketing Director Steve Kelley. For the sixth year, East Hartford, Connecticut-based American Eagle Federal Credit Union and the South-End Residents Merchants Cooperative, Inc. have teamed up to provide 25 complete turkey dinners to area residents in need. Madison Area Credit Unions also focused on food drives by collecting enough food for 24,000 meals. The two food drives aided 33 food pantries in the Madison and Dane County area. With the war never far from anyone’s thoughts, the Connecticut Credit Union Association chose to combine the spirit of the holiday season and the poignancy of current events during its holiday reception. The event benefited the children of members of the Connecticut National Guard who have been called to active duty during the holidays. Attendees were asked to bring a gift that will be given to these children to help make their holiday season more enjoyable. Special guests included Congressman John Larson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who gave an update on the war against terrorism, and Lt. Col. Gary Thorstenson of the Connecticut National Guard, who provided insight into the scope of the state’s involvement in this effort. “Many individuals and families in Connecticut are making sacrifices this holiday season to ensure our safety. Our goal was to show them that Connecticut credit unions appreciate their efforts and many sacrifices on our behalf,” said CCUA Vice President of Government Relations Kelly Ramsey. For the 14th year Credit Union Center employees have provided the gifts through the CUNA Mutual Group “Holiday Sharing Tree” program. With many of the mentally ill forgotten over the holiday season, cards with residents’ names and gift requests are selected by Credit Union Center employees who then place the wrapped gifts under the holiday tree in the campus’ International Commons. Approximately 875 holiday gifts were collected to benefit residents of Mendota Mental Health Institute and Central Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled. According to Leo Goldapske, director of rehabilitative services at Mendota Mental Health Institute, the gifts will be distributed to 285 patients on campus and 150 patients located off-campus. “Over the years, the Sharing Tree program has been something our residents look forward to during the holidays,” said Terry Smith, program assistant in volunteer services for Central Wisconsin Center. “The smiles on the faces of those opening the gifts are priceless … and say it all.” [email protected]

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