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Members raise nearly $5,800 during ‘Santa Cause’ event

Ugly Christmas sweaters turn into something beautiful for local nonprofits, causes

December 30, 2014

CFCU employees wearing Christmas sweaters of all types and sizes helped start conversations with members Dec. 19-20 and led to nearly $5,800 in donations to 17 different nonprofit causes.

Our second annual “Christmas Sweater – Santa Cause” fundraiser – an idea that originated in 2013 with our Manitowoc branch and quickly spread to all branches – took place in 15 hours over two days.

“Each of our branches chose a nonprofit or a cause that carried special significance and then worked with our members who stopped by our branches to generate donations,” said Kevin Hartz, senior vice president/branch operations. “To raise almost $5,800 in less than two days is a great example of how our staff and our members embrace our ‘Community First’ and ‘people-helping-people’ philosophy through local organizations.”

At the Westowne branch in Oshkosh, members donated $385 to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society. “I felt silly in my ugly sweater, so I would bring it up to the members that I was wearing it for the cause,” said Jolene Heuchert, assistant branch manager at Westowne. “The whole branch participated in wearing the ugly sweater and the tellers did a great job asking open-ended donation questions such as ‘How much would you like to donate today?’ Almost every employee owns a cat or dog, so Humane Society was a good choice for us.” 

Bellevue members ponied up nearly $194 for Golden House, where branch manager Nicole Allen has volunteered in the past. “I’ve heard about and seen the amazing work they do for domestic abuse and sexual assault victims in our community,” said Nicole who urged Bellevue employees to mention the Santa Cause to every member that came in and promised to buy lunch for the branch if they exceeded $150 in donations. “I was their cheerleader the entire day and worked on the teller line with them,” Nicole said. “So, they saw me asking and they literally asked every person they saw if they would contribute to the cause.  It was awesome to see!”

Darboy branch members raised almost $575 for the Cancer Care Support Fund of the Appleton Medical Center Foundation. Kara Wittlin, assistant head teller, suggested the fund which her family donated to last year when her father passed away.

“This strongly hit home personally since my husband passed away last December from cancer, and we spend many days and nights at AMC receiving treatments,” said Amy Ratliff, Darboy branch manager. “The team really rallied around it and the members were extremely generous. Especially during this time of the year people want to and feel good about helping others. The Cancer Care Support Fund provides assistance to patients receiving treatments who are struggling financially by giving them gas cards and phone cards. There is enough stress when dealing with an illness, but to add financial stress on top of it is very unfortunate.”

The Darboy branch exceeded its $350 goal after just seven hours so they challenged themselves to go higher. “We set another goal and even surpassed that! It was really fun have the team rally around idea and feels great to be able to help others,” Amy said.

In Nichols, the branch raised $116 in support of Community 2000 Seymour, an outreach program for residents of the Seymour and Shiocton school districts. “All donations raised are used to help families of the Seymour, Black Creek, Nichols, and Shiocton area,” said MSR Kim Krull, who has volunteered for the group. “The organization helps many families with food drives and Christmas from Santa. They assist with housing, rent, energy/heating assistance, gas cards to get to work and clothes for those making job changes. I was astounded at all the work and time they put in to help so many people with more than I ever thought. Truly they have the kindest hearts and the warmest smiles,” Kim said.

Members who visited the Oneida branch chipped in $871 for St. Joe’s Food Pantry. “The staff/membership I believe really embrace the food pantry because it helps a wide range of individuals and families,” said Michael Graham, assistant branch manager. “The Oneida Street staff did a fantastic job asking every member if they would like to make a donation to the St. Joe’s Food Pantry with many members donating several dollars.”

Here are donations raised by other CFCU branches and their chosen cause: Ballard, $142, Harbor House; De Pere, $189, Happily Ever After Animal Shelter; Forest, $478, Neenah Animal Shelter; FVTC, $102, Fox Valley Humane Association; Greenville, $192, Hortonville Food Pantry; Howard, $209, Paul’s Pantry; Bell, $309, Neenah Animal Shelter; Manitowoc, $222, Pete’s Pantry; Mason, $128, Chance Animal Shelter; New London, $104, S.A.F.E. Stray Animal Fund Endeavor; Nicolet, $232, Fox Valley Humane Association; Richmond, $677, Fox Valley Humane Association; South Park, $78, Oshkosh Area Humane Association; Two Rivers, $95, Lakeshore Humane Society; Waupaca, $37, Project Backpack; Winneconne, $420, Christine Ann Center.