Credit Unions Celebrate International CU Day

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – On Jan. 17, 1917, the Credit Union League of Massachusetts helped create the first Credit Union Day in the U.S., with the date selected because it was the birthday of the Father of Thrift, Benjamin Franklin.

In 1948, CUNA and CUNA Mutual helped take the concept national, choosing the third Thursday in October as Credit Union Day. By the 1960s, the concept had spread to become International Credit Union Week.

Today, credit unions around the country will mark International Credit Union Day with a variety of activities. Related developments include:

* Numerous CUs around the country are building upon the “Pay It Forward” concept initially developed by Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union. In Wichita,, Kan., for instance, Educational Credit Union is encouraging people to pay it forward by giving out $2,000 during a four-day time span. The credit union is asking, “If Educational Credit Union gave you $20 to pay it forward, what would you do?” The first 25 participants each day win $20, with no strings attached except the assignment to pay it forward. As was the case with Seattle Metropolitan, participants’ intentions are being videotaped from noon to 5 p.m. during International Credit Union Week.

* For its part, Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union has organized “Co-opapalooza,” which it is billing as a “celebration of cooperative businesses.” On Oct. 17 in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, SMCU brought together co-ops of all types from across the country for an event where there will be free food samples, discounted massages, coffee samples and more. Bands played at the free event. “The purpose of the event is show the great things co-ops do for the community and provide an opportunity for consumers to learn more about them,” Seattle Metro said.

* In Pennsylvania, Bob Horner, CEO of West Branch Valley FCU, appeared on a local radio show to discuss the benefits of CU membership, while Belco Community CU is celebrating International CU Day by offering a free hot dog lunch, a prize drawing for a $100 Visa gift card, free giveaways, and an employee bake sale at all branches, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness.

* In Wisconsin, the state league said the credit union initiative REAL Solutions, which began in Wisconsin and which now is operated by the National Credit Union Foundation, has led to the savings of more than $200 million annually on a full range of financial services for 2.2-million consumers across the state. Nationwide, REAL Solutions now involves more than 1,100 credit unions from 37 states and is returning $7 billion in annual benefits to CU Members nationally, according to the WCUL.

* Credit unions across Delaware are sponsoring a special Credit Union Day supplement in The News Journal.

* In Minnesota, Gov. Tom Pawlenty signed a proclamation honoring Credit Union Day that states: “Credit unions encourage a regular habit of saving, foster the desire to repay loans so members have access to credit when needed, and empower individuals to improve their financial standing.”

* In Indiana, the Governor has declared Oct. 17-23 as Cooperative Week.

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