What Some Credit Unions Are Doing

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Among some of the support efforts by military and non-military CUs includes:

* Mon-Oc FCU, Toms River, N.J., is offering a free financial planning session with a financial counselor who has "considerable experience working with members of the military and their families during the Gulf War." The CU is also waiving fees and penalties for early withdrawal of savings certificates and IRAs.

* The Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU, Scranton, Penn., has developed a web page dedicated to serve as a message board in support of troops overseas. Anyone wishing to post a message of support can visit www.tobyhannafcu.org. The CU e-mailed all its members that uses online banking to let them know about the new website, and the CU board posted the first message. Within an hour of that first posting, the Pennsylvania-based CU received messages from as far away as Minnesota.

* Although the SSCRA requires a reduction in loan APRs on debt accrued prior to deployment, it doesn't cover debt acquired during and post deployment. But River City FCU, LaCrosse, Wis., is allowing its active military members to continue using their lines of credit and/or credit cards with the lower interest rate during their deployment. For example, if a member has a line of credit of $5,000, but only has a balance of $2,500, the member (or a joint account holder) can withdraw up to $2,500 and continue to utilize the available amount while the member is on active duty, and will be charged the reduced rate.

* Dane County CU, Madison, Wis., worked with area businesses and the community to put together 160 care packages for members of the military stationed in the Middle East. Some 1,893 pounds of everyday items were sent to 40 recipients as a result of the effort that was initiated when a long-time CU member, whose son is with the military in the Middle East, asked DCCU to help make life easier for troops serving in the Gulf. When the CU's collection efforts were publicized by the local media, other businesses and members of the community got involved as well. DCCU served as the drop-off site for donations, and staff and family members volunteered to box up the care packages on a Saturday afternoon.

* The $770-million Service Credit Union, Portsmouth, N.H., is offering video-conferencing to anyone with family members in the military. SCU has video conferencing capabilities at its corporate offices, as well as at its Overseas Division Headquarters in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Anyone who has a family member in the military and would like to communicate via video conferencing is welcome to do so, the credit union said. "Service Credit Union is proud of its military roots," says Service Credit Union's President/CEO Gordon Simmons. The service is free.

* In Westbrook, Maine, the Maine league is coordinating an effort during which participating credit unions across Maine will be collecting and donating phone cards and/or cash, after which all phone cards and a check to the USO will be distributed to troops and their families. "Operation Phone Home is not about whether people do or do not support the war, it's about supporting our troops," said MCUL spokesperson Jon Paradise. The goal is to collect cards representing at least 50,000 minutes.

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