TULSA, Okla. – In an extraordinary gesture of public goodwill, Tulsa Teachers Credit Union is donating $150,000 to Tulsa area schools to help them cope with a budget shortfall in state school funding. The gift, made public in ceremonies at school district board meetings in metropolitan Tulsa, was widely praised by state officials and school administrators who expressed appreciation for the donations as a special measure of business support during the state's budget crisis. "We had a real good year in 2002, paid a $1.77 million bonus dividend and we felt we should give back to our community to help the financial burden facing our school systems," said Leslie W. Rector, chief executive of the $596 million TTCU, the state's second largest. The first donation of $50,000 was made to the Tulsa Public School Board Jan. 21 with smaller donations ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 being made over the following two weeks to 21 schools. "The situation in our state has been pretty grim with teachers laid off, bus routes cut and volunteer substitutes called in," explained Kristi Brooks Reid, vice president of marketing, in describing the motivation of TTCU to pitch in. In a formal press release, Rector noted that "in 1934 a teacher in the Tulsa public schools began our credit union by making loans from the cash box in the drawer of her desk." The `people helping people' concept, he said, remains the philosophy of the CU movement and so "we live by that same philosophy today." As a CU, he continued, "we can help teachers, educators, students and their families with their personal financial needs everyday, but with these donations we are pleased to help ease the financial burden these entire school systems are facing." In many cases, the school boards did not know in advance they were receiving the donations until the evening meetings when Rector and other CU executives showed up to make the announcement. "We had the president of the Tulsa Board gasp aloud when he heard the news," said Reid. Rector, the TTCU president, said the school gift was no "attempt to blow our own horn," but the 70,000-member CU "is education-based" and owes it to its constituency to help out in times of need. Among schools benefiting from the gifts are those in Tulsa suburbs spread from Bixby on the south to Skiatook in the north and from Claremore to Sapulpa. Reid said the $50,000 donation to the Tulsa School Board will help meet a $1 million goal in matching funds promised by the Zarrow Foundation managed by a wealthy Tulsa philanthropist. Rector acknowledged that the TTCU donation may be unusual among CUs, adding it is his understanding that Orange County Teachers Federal CU in San Diego also has given sizable gifts to local school boards. -

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