Up To 800 Credit Unions Hit By Tsunami

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Ten days after the tsunami struck this island country and South Asia, the Sri Lankan Credit Union Federation (SANASA) was estimating that as many as 800 SANASA primary societies (credit unions) in that country were destroyed.

The World Council of Credit Unions, which has a representative in the region who is working to assess the damage, said initial reports from SANASA Chairman Chairman P.A. Kiriwandeniya indicated just how difficult rebuilding the primary societies will be, with up to one-million people displaced from their homes and more than 30,000 dead. The country has approximately 8,000 credit unions and 33 district unions.

Kiriwandeniya is appealing to credit unions for financial assistance (see info, right), and credit unions across the country and the world have engaged in numerous efforts to raise funds.

According to WOCCU, SANASA is helping to build 1,000 shelters, providing cooking utensils for 25,000 families, and taking guardianship of more than 100 orphans.

WOCCU has dispatched Normunds Mizis, who was WOCCU's project director in Sri Lanka from 1998-2002, to the country to further identify damage and provide assistance. Meanwhile, in Aceh and North Sumatra, WOCCU said it is working with the Indonesia Credit Union Federation (CUCO) as it assesses damage there, especially on Nias Island of North Sumatra.

To help victims, WOCCU has established a disaster relief fund. Contributions can be sent to Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, P.O. Box 2982, Madison, WI 53701-2982.

Meanwhile, around the U.S.:

* In Pasadena, Calif., more than a dozen Wescom CU employees, representing the credit union employees' WeCare charity, walked the stands and helped collect donations for victims during the Rose Bowl football game.

* St. Joseph's CU, in Biddeford, Maine, has teamed with the Northeast Atlantic Marine Alliance to raise funds for fishermen and their families in Sri Lanka, one of the hardest-hit from the massive tidal waves. The credit union has agreed to waive any fees for wiring funds to the stricken countries.

* Affinity Plus CU, in St. Paul, Minn., has created a Sri Lanka Fund for the disaster victims. Security Service FCU, in San Antonio, has joined with the American Red Cross to collect disaster funds. And Lake Michigan CU, Grand Rapids, Mich., has been collecting funds at all of its branches for aid.

* In Eugene, Ore., Oregon Community Credit Union teamed up with the American Red Cross and Cumulus Broadcasting to hold a 14-hour fundraising radio telethon. During the event, Oregon Community Credit Union hosted and staffed a phone bank at its corporate office to accept donations from community members who want to help.

* In Lihue, Hawaii, Kauai Community FCU, Kauai Government Employees FCU, Kaumakani FCU, Kekaha FCU, Koloa FCU, McBryde FCU, Lihue CU and Kauai Teachers Federal Credit Union have partnered with the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross

* In Albany, N.Y., the New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) has established a Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund, to which it made an initial contribution of $5,000.

* In Miramar, Fla., the $1.8-billion Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union has designated the month of January as Red Cross Disaster Relief Month and said it will devote the month to raising donations from employees and members for the American Red Cross International Response Fund for tsunami relief efforts.

Eastern Financial Florida CU said it will match money raised through donations from the public as well as a number of events and programs throughout the month for its 644 employees.

Those include raffles for sports tickets, gift baskets and special parking; sales of Krispy Kreme Donuts and ice cream at the credit union's headquarters; a car wash; chair massages; and allowing employees to pay $3 to wear blue jeans on Fridays.

Separately, next week it will present $16,841 to the Red Cross for Caribbean hurricane relief efforts.

Where To Send Funds

To help victims, WOCCU has established a disaster relief fund. Contributions can be sent to Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, P.O. Box 2982, Madison, WI 53701-2982.

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