November 1, 2012
Emphasizing the physical and financial health of children in need, Linn-Co Federal Credit Union scored a rare double in the annual CUNA Awards competition for 2012. The result was a first-place Dora Maxwell Award for its Kidzshop program and a Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award for its educational carnivals project.
Kathleen Burt, public relations specialist for Linn-Co, said the educational carnivals evolved from brainstorming an innovative approach to celebrate National Youth Week.
“We had done outreach on financial education before and always received good response. Our challenge was how to broaden that outreach to serve more children in a fun and exciting environment,” said Burt.
The answer was to convert the credit union’s training center in Lebanon, Ore., to an educational carnival that featured multiple training booths where kids learned the basics of checking, credit and savings. Linn-Co partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club to reach more young people and expose them to financial basics.
The partnership with the Boys & Girls Club was also instrumental in the development of the Kidzshop program.
“We identified over 300 children in need in our community,” Burt said. “We wanted to help meet part of that need by uniting local businesses and community groups into a planned and organized strategy that addressed those needs while providing a fun experience for the kids,” she said.
The strategy included raising cash from supporters, enlisting dozens of volunteers and pulling it all together to build a personalized experience for each child.
Volunteers loaded sack lunches and secured donated backpacks for each child. The backpacks were personalized with each individual child’s name on his or her respective backpack.
The culminating activity was a shopping spree for each child where they had $100 to spend at local merchants for clothes and other supplies. Volunteer chaperones accompanied each child on their shopping adventures, and merchants offered discounts to the students to give them the biggest bang for their buck.
“It was a very rewarding experience for everyone and really meant a lot to the kids,” Burt said.
The final gift was a one-year membership to the Boys & Girls Club in their local neighborhood. Linn-Co hopes this will be a project that will become a staple of the credit union’s youth outreach efforts for years to come.
Questions? Contact the NWCUA Awards Program: 800.995.9064, ext. 106; firstname.lastname@example.org.