CUs Step In To Help Tsunami Victims

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Representatives of the World Council of Credit Unions were delayed in their efforts to reach areas of Asia hit by the devastating tsunami but were expected to arrrive over the weekend.

In the meantime credit unions and credit union organizations around the U.S. were raising millions of dollars for tsunami relief, much of which was going to the American Red Cross.

Brian Branch, acting CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), said that Normunds Mizis had been delayed in Uzbekistan, where he had been working. He is to be joined by John Ikeda of WOCCU's Washington office.

According to Branch, WOCCU has been staying in touch with Sri Lanka's credit union trade association, SANASA, via e-mail. It is estimated that as many as 800 of the small, primarily village-based credit unions in Sri Lanka have been destroyed. Branch said that one task WOCCU's representatives will face in many areas of Asia is recovering documents from the credit unions, if any are to be recovered at all. In the meantime, he said, the trade group continues with its efforts to help build shelters and distribute food and clothing.

Meanwhile, around the U.S., CUs, associations and vendors continue to make donations and raise funds for Tsunami victims. Among the efforts:

* In Madison, Wis., the Credit Union Executives Society has made a $100,000 donation to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions' Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund, which is being overseen by the National Credit Union Foundation. "The time is right for us to step up and help these credit unions in need so they can re-establish their communities," said CUES President Fred Johnson.

* Bluepoint Solutions, Vista, Calif., has donated $1,000 to the tsunami relief effort currently being coordinated by the World Council of Credit Unions.

* Security Service FCU, San Antonio, has partnered with the American Red Cross and is accepting donations at all its 28 service centers in Texas and Colorado and through its Member Contact Center.

* In Portsmouth, N.H., Service Credit Union is accepting deposits for tsunami relief at all of its branches. Donations will be matched by Service CU up to $50,000 and donated to AmeriCares.

* The Florida Credit Union League, Tallahassee, has established a Tsunami Relief Fund through the Florida Credit Union foundation. The Foundation will accept donations to any designated organization that is listed at the USA Freedom Corps web site, Any donations received that are not designated to an organization will be given to the American Red Cross.

* Arizona FCU is partnering with Save the Children to raise funds to met the needs of children in the areas.

* Founders FCU, Charleston, S.C., has donated $5,000 to the American Red Cross.

* Redstone FCU is accepting donations to a Tsunami/Earthquake Relief Fund at its branches.

* The Indiana CU Foundation has established a relief fund. The Foundation, along with Servicecorp, a subsidiary of the Indiana league, recently made a $15,000 donation to the Florida Credit Union Foundation for relief efforts in that state.

* Ripco Credit Union, Rhinelander, Wis., joined with local WFFW-NBC 12 for a community wide fundraiser to benefit victims of the tsunami. Held at a local facility, the event included bands and light refreshments at which donations could be made.

* E&A Credit Union, Port Huron, Mich., raised more than $1,000 in a single day through a "Jeans Day" to help tsunami efforts.

* Vantage Credit Union, St. Louis, raised more than $1,700 in conjunction with radio station KEZK's "Dress Down for Disaster Relief Day." The credit union then matched the funds two to one, bringing the total to more than $5,300.

* In Eugene, Ore., Oregon Community CU said it raised more than $70,000 for tsunami relief during a 14-hour telethon with the American Red Cross and the local broadcasting network. The telethon was conducted by credit union employees out of the credit union's headquarters.

* The Washington CU Foundation donated $10,000 to relief efforts, and a separate $500 emergency grant to a Malaysian employee at the Credit Union Northwest, in Seattle, so she could fly home to Indonesia to search for missing family members. The Ohio CU foundation also donated $10,000 in relief aid last week. Redstone FCU, in Huntsville, Ala., like several other credit unions, has opened its doors to non-members to help it raise disaster relief funds. And Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C., held the first of a series of picnic-fundraisers Saturday to collect donations for tsunami victims.

* In San Diego, Cabrillo Credit Union is offering a special donation program allowing holders of Gold MasterCard ScoreCard points to turn them into a cash donation to help the tsunami victims. The points are convertible to a cash donation to American Red Cross.

* In Wisconsin, First American Credit Union has established a Tsunami Relief Fund, with donations going to the American Red Cross.

* In Bloomington, Minn., The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation has set up a Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund.

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