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LANCASTER, S.C. – There are few chief executives across the U.S. more enthused about CUNA’s philanthropic 2004 campaign to distribute child identification kits than Bruce Brumfield of Founders FCU. “What better way is there for credit unions to set ourselves apart from other financial institutions and to give something back to our communities?” asked the Founders CEO in assessing the value of the National Child Identification Kit project which got its public debut during the Democratic and Republican conventions over the summer. The ID kits collect and record identifying information about a child that may be critical in the case of runaways or abduction. Each kit includes an ID card for fingerprints, a foil pouch containing inkless fingerprinting solution, a card for recording the child’s physical distribution and identifying parks. There are also spaces for photographs and emergency phone numbers. So far Founders has had the most ambitious individual CU effort with the kits with its decision to help distribute a whopping 100,000 kits to parents in its six-county South Carolina market. Under the promotion, Founders is also selling custom-order brass ornaments from Baldwin Brass Hardware Corp., Reading, Pa., for $19.95 each and then directing proceeds to buy more kits. “We make nothing in the sale,” said Brumfield. Members have a choice of ornaments to select, including ones with a football design which fits nicely into CUNA’s national ID campaign co-sponsored by the Dallas-based American Football Coaches Association. The Baldwin ornaments would have special appeal to pro or college football fans since University of South Carolina or Clemson figurines are included “and there are patriotic Marine and military ornaments as well,” said Brumfield. While the ornaments are being sold at the CU’s 17 branches, Founders is encouraging employees to sell them on their own to family and friends, at church bazaars, at schools or civic functions.Employees earn an extra $1 for every ornament sold and if they sell 30 are eligible for all expenses paid vacation getaways to New York, to a North Carolina resort – or for the top seller-a three-night trip for two “anywhere in the continental U.S” plus $1,000 spending cash. While Founders’ participation in Child ID is the most extensive, CUs across the country have joined in the CUNA effort. The Alabama CU League and New York CU League are working on distributing 50,000 kits each. And last month Deseret FCU in Salt Lake City said it was giving away 3,000 of the kits with a pointed public reminder that it was doing so to demonstrate its community involvement amidst new and heated lawmaker rhetoric arising from the bank/CU clash. At a news briefing, Deseret First said its kit distribution marked “a major victory in the public’s favor” as it engages the banking lobby once again over the tax exemption and CU field of membership/business loan expansion in that state. “We feel like the protection of our children is something we simply cannot afford to overlook,” said Deseret First President/CEO Kris Mecham, who is also a CUNA director. Like other state leagues hooked up with the CUNA goodwill project, the Alabama league said it expects to start distributing the first batch of 50,000 to youngsters and their parents next month under an arrangement with the State Superintendent of Schools. The Alabama league announced its Child ID participation at a widely covered Birmingham press conference in September featuring remarks by former Alabama Football Head Coach Gene Stallings representing the coaches association. The press conference, held at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, included comments by Gary Wolter, League president and CEO, who reminded reporters that CUs have long had interest in charity work and support law enforcement in tracking down missing children. “We felt this program is a natural fit for us,” said Wolter. The Alabama league will include a special insert with its ID kits that explains what credit unions are all about. A number of state leagues involved in Child ID said the press of other projects including preparing for state legislative meetings in 2005, CUNA’s Hike the Hill and annual meetings has delayed work in contacting CUs in getting the project rolling. A spokesman for Georgia CU Affiliates said it is planning to combine Children’s Miracle Network with the kit program “since they fit well together.” Gary Kohn, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs, said he has been pleased at state league cooperation stressing that Child ID is a venture that “takes awhile” to get launched and requires “lots of legwork.” Various pilot projects on Child ID have been started across the U.S. and on these “you have to walk before you run.” Ken Hansmire, director of the National Child Identification Program, said one experiment which still needs more work is the distribution of kits to golfers on PGA courses. One such venture was tried early last month at the Nebraska league. Unfortunately, the test came on a stormy day across the state with turnout low at courses in Omaha and Lincoln, said Hansmire. Among other leagues getting involved in Child ID are Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas “with others in the planning stages,” said a CUNA spokesman noting “a big push” is planned for next spring. “I think this is a cause that credit unions across the country need to get involved in as a way to demonstrate that we really say what we mean and give back to the public,” said Brumfield. -

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