Program Allows Staff To Donate Time To Charities

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For many charitable and non-profit organizations, the gift of time is more precious than money. Oregon Community Credit Union recently rolled out a program to allow its employees to donate their time during normal business hours.

The program, known as Community Outreach For Employees, or CORE, is the brainchild of Mike Shultz, Oregon Community CU's community outreach coordinator. He said a speaker at a Points of Light Foundation conference he attended last year in Kansas City, Mo., told of a similar program at Levi Strauss & Co. Shultz's version gives staff members up to 16 hours per year to donate. Part-time employees can donate up to eight hours per year.

"The name is mine," said Shultz. "I think it is a win-win. There is a cost involved, since we are letting employees leave during work time, but the payback is great. We get closer to the community."

OCCU asks employees who wish to donate their time to do so in two-hour increments, including travel time. Shultz noted a "common sense" requirement is that people should not leave Friday afternoon during peak hours, but other than that, there are few restrictions. The CU will make a list of eligible organizations for those staff member who do not have a favorite charity. Some employees will donate their time by reading to children at local schools.

The CORE program kicked off Feb. 1. The credit union said if every employee participates, the local community will benefit from 3,208 hours of volunteer time this year. Shultz said it is a twist on the U.S. Army's current recruiting slogan.

"Instead of an 'Army of One,' it's an army of 240," he quipped. "The Eugene/Springfield area is pretty unique. People value and take note of organizations that do things like this. They care, and they notice."

The program's debut would have happened about three weeks earlier, but OCCU was occupied with a tsunami relief effort in conjunction with a company that owns six local radio stations. Shultz said the credit union raised $70,000, and received numerous pats on the back from people around town.

Shultz said he plans to visit some of the organizations while volunteers are present. He will take pictures and put them in the CU's newsletter to let members know about the effort.

The program demonstrates the difference between credit unions and banks, he asserted.

"A bank might cut a check, but credit unions get out and do community outreach at a grass roots level."

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