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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Living the “people helping people” philosophy, credit unions are stepping up to help victims devastated by the tsunami that affected 11 nations bordering the Indian Ocean. Many credit unions, such as Lake Michigan CU and Security Service FCU, have already established accounts to accept donations for victims. In some cases members have set up their own accounts to help victims. Oregon Community Credit Union opted to team up with the American Red Cross and Cumulus Broadcasting to hold a 14-hour fundraising radio telethon. During the event, OCCU will host and staff a phone bank at its headquarters to accept donations. All funds raised will be specifically earmarked for tsunami relief efforts and presented to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Some credit union help is very pinpointed. For example in Boseman, Montana an account has been started at Rocky Mountain Credit Union to help survivors in Baan Talae Nork, a tiny village on the Thailand island of Phuket. Another account has been established at Portland, Oregon-based PACE Credit Union to help airlift a local surgeon home from West Thailand after her leg and hand were crushed during the tsunami. Over in Hawaii, Kauai Community FCU (KCFCU), Kauai Government Employees FCU, Kaumakani FCU , Kekaha FCU, Koloa FCU, McBryde FCU, Lihue CU and Kauai Teachers FCU have partnered with the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross to establish a Tsunami Relief Fund. All donations will be forwarded to the Hawaii Red Cross in Honolulu, Hawaii. Donations are tax-deductible and each donator will receive an official thank you letter/receipt from the Red Cross. In Taunton, Massachusetts, Taunton Federal Credit Union stands ready to roll a penny mosaic representing each tsunami victim at The First Parish Church. The credit union will present the penny donation in check form to UNICEF to support its South Asia Relief and recovery efforts. In addition, the credit union is in the process of developing its own fundraiser for tsunami victims. Wescom CU’s employee-run charity, the WeCare Foundation, was on hand to man some eight stations during the Rose Bowl to help raise funds for victims. According to the American Red Cross, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association’s decision to allow donation areas is unprecedented in the history of the Rose Bowl. Springfield, Virginia-based Genesis Federal Credit Union is also offering to forward donations to international relief organizations such as CARE International, Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF. “Our community is comprised of nationals from some of the affected areas, and, as part of the community, we wish to do something on their behalf,” said Genesis CEO Pat Malatesta. Navy Federal Credit Union will post links on its Web site (www.navyfcu.com) to six organizations identified by the Wall Street Journal as those that will directly reach victims in affected areas. According to Navy FCU Spokesperson Loren Carson, not only will the links help protect members from being duped by fake charities but also gives members control over how their donations are distributed. “We know that cash contributions are what the relief agencies say they need now more than anything and with so many members we felt it was best to let them choose which organizations they want to support,” said Carson. A St. Joseph’s Credit Union and Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) team effort to help raise money for fishermen and their families impacted by the Tsunami has grown into a statewide campaign coordinated by the Maine Credit Union League. Through the month-long “People Helping People Catch Relief” campaign, NAMA and credit unions across the state will raise funds for Tsunami victims in several countries. In addition, part of the funds collected will benefit the more than 13,000 credit unions and four million credit union members affected in that region. Committed to the fishing community and part of a network of people with connections to Sri Lanka and other heavily damaged areas, St. Joseph’s CU Board Director/NAMA Coordinating Director Craig Pendleton sparked the initial fundraising efforts into motion. As administrator for the entire relief effort, St. Joseph’s CU will absorb all of the International Wire Transfer costs to distribute the funds, representing a savings of $25 – $60 per wire. All funds collected will be sent to the World Forum of Fisher People which is headquartered in Sri Lanka, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami, and the Sri Lanka Centre for Development Facilitation, an organization that has created a network of credit unions that have lead to the enhanced position of women in Sri Lanka. The New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) has also set up a Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund to facilitate donations from New York credit unions wanting to help those impacted by the massive tsunami. In addition, the Foundation has donated $5,000 to the Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund. WOCCU and the NCUF are currently identifying and assessing the needs in the area. According to NYCUF Board of Trustees Chairman James Mack, once the most effective disaster response is determined NYCUF will make one donation with the name of all fund donors to the appropriate response organization. “I think all of us have been shocked and horrified by the magnitude of this tragedy,” said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the New York State Credit Union League and NYCUF president. ” We only hope that our donations can help alleviate some of the hardship felt by our CU brethren in those areas experiencing such devastation.” While credit unions find creative ways to help, the American Red Cross says the best way for individuals to help is to make monetary contributions rather than donating food, supplies or clothing. The funds will allow the charities to buy necessary equipment, food supplies and provide whatever is specifically needed in the affected areas. This approach has the triple advantage of stimulating local economies (providing employment, generating cash flow), ensuring that supplies arrive as quickly as possible and reducing transport and storage costs. [email protected]

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