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STCU delivers Season of Giving cheer

| January 1, 2021 1:00 AM

In response to unprecedented need, STCU significantly increased its year-end giving, surprising more than 20 community organizations with checks ranging from $10,000 to $32,000 to assist with their work of providing basic needs and helping keep youth connected.

In addition, the Spokane-based credit union is writing checks ranging from $25 to $1,000 to 103 organizations where employees volunteered in 2020.

In Bonner County, groups which are receiving donations include Memorial Community Center in Hope, which is receiving a $15,000 donation. Also receiving donations in North Idaho are Gizmo CDA, $32,000; Children’s Village, which provides residential care and crisis nursery, $15,000; Boys and Girls Clubs of Kootenai County, $20,000; and North Idaho College, $20,000.

The Season of Giving surprise donations of more than $400,000 are being delivered via Zoom meetings to non-profit organizations in Eastern Washington, Tri-Cities and North Idaho. They ranged from the maker space Gizmo CDA, to youth centers, to organizations helping college students stay in school.

“We’ve always appreciated the vital services these organizations provide to individuals and families, helping make our community stronger and more equitable,” said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU President and CEO. “In a year with so many challenges, they need our support more than ever.”

While the Season of Giving is a favorite with credit union staff, STCU contributes to community organizations year around. Because 2020 has been particularly difficult for many, the credit union augmented its giving. When events were canceled, STCU asked the organizations to shift its sponsorship money to providing critical needs.

A few examples of STCU’s 2020 efforts:

• Helping Idaho Business for Education raise more than $400,000 and collect 1,200 devices for K-12 students through the Close the Divide technology campaign.

• Buying hundreds of gift cards from local businesses to distribute to struggling STCU members and organizations.

• Supporting STCU business members through the administration of more than 1,200 Paycheck Protection Program loans, and helping smaller credit unions do the same.

• Working with KREM-2 on its “Love Local” campaign and the Inlander on its “Back to Business” special sections – both significant efforts to support local businesses.

Providing critical financial and volunteer support for Spokane Food Fighters, which distributed 120,000 meals directly to doorsteps.

• STCU employees have logged more than 6,000 volunteer hours, including distributing PPE at the Spokane County Fairgrounds, passing out Bite 2 Go meals, and assembling and distributing food boxes for Spokane Valley Partners, along with dozens of other efforts.

• Providing critical support and 0% interest loans to wildfire victims.

Using its advertising space to celebrate frontline workers, and support a community effort to honor the class of 2020.

Eckhardt said that certain expectations come from being a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded during the Great Depression.

“STCU members have made clear time and again that they want their credit union to assist always, and particularly during challenging times,” he said. “Our board and our employees wouldn’t have it any other way.”

In addition, STCU employees who served at least 12 volunteer hours at any single organization this year were invited to apply for a Volunteers Count grant on behalf of that organization. STCU will deliver 19 of those $1,000 grants by year’s end, along with checks of $25, $50 and $100 to an additional 84 organizations where employees volunteered.

STCU’s Volunteers Count program offers employees 16 hours of paid time each year for volunteerism. The credit union encourages further volunteer activity by providing flexible schedules, leadership training at all levels, and other support to help them make a community impact.

Founded by Spokane schoolteachers in 1934, STCU is a not-for-profit financial cooperative with more than 210,000 members, 29 branch locations, and $3.9 billion in total assets.

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