Businesses Slow To Answer CU's Request To Help Local School District

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Four months after launching an impressive goal of raising $1 million to help local schools hit hard by budget cuts, Orange County Teachers FCU is finding area businesses slow to answer the call.

On May 12, OCTFCU launched its "Step Up For Education" fundraising drive by presenting a check for $250,000 to the Orange County superintendent of schools. The credit union said it would match contributions by county businesses on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to $500,000. At the time, OCTFCU president and CEO Rudy Hanley told The Credit Union Journal he hoped to find 100 businesses willing to give $5,000 each.

According to Emily Friesen, OCTFCU's marketing project leader, through Aug. 22 the cash donation total was $273,747. In other words, only $23,747 has been received from donors other than the credit union itself.

Friesen acknowledged that she had expected better results after three months, but said she was pleased to note that $3,000 of the total came from members, who put donations into specially marked boxes in branches.

"While the state budget cuts have been horrific-roughly $2 billion was cut from the education budget-the school districts have been able to avoid mass layoffs," said Friesen. "And, many businesses are running their own education fundraisers, so the schools are getting money."

More Than Money

In addition to the cash donations, OCTFCU has pledged to provide services to displaced school workers. To date, 14 members have requested loan payment deferrals on a total of 28 loans, reported Friesen. "We have held seminars on topics such as surviving unemployment and whether to accept an offer of a retirement package. Plus, we always have people available in our branches to answer our members' questions," Friesen said.

The credit union is sponsoring a 5K walk on Sept. 6 as a continuation of the fundraising drive. All companies that have donated money will be considered co-sponsors.

OCTFCU is the largest educational credit union in the United States. It recently surpassed 300,000 members and has more than $4 billion in assets.

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