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Patterson FCU Launches Project CARE as Philanthropy Project
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 6:55 AM

Patterson FCU

Patterson Federal Credit Union in Arkadelphia, Ark., has been busy with a special philanthropy project. They call it Project CARE, the Arkadelphia Public School District program that sends food home with children in need so that they can eat over weekends and holiday.

In the Arkadelphia Public School District, school counselors send about 100 backpacks of food per week home with children who would likely go hungry otherwise. In the past, the food was provided by the food bank but, due to changes in how they distribute, that is no longer the case. The school counselors had been collecting monetary and food donations as best they could, but the program was suffering. Enter Patterson Federal Credit Union.

Patterson CEO Shawn Cowart was in search of a signature philanthropy project for his team to work on. "When I heard that up to 500 kids in our school district were underfed I knew we had to get involved," said Cowart. 

Vice President of Business Development Nicole McGough reached out to the school district to see how they could help. The counselors were thrilled with her offer since, with everything else their jobs demand, it was getting difficult to keep up.

"The first thing we did was sponsor food drives in four of the schools in the district," McGough says. "We sent out flyers and advertised on Facebook. We gave the students a list of the preferred foods to bring in, and then we ran each food drive for about two weeks. In total the students collected 5,344 items. Our credit union treated the winning homerooms in each grade level to pizza and extra recess parties."

"Following that, Alumacraft, a local boat manufacturer, hosted a food drive for this project," McGough adds. "They chose to have their departments compete in terms of how many pounds of food they brought in. Overall, they collected 664 pounds."

McGough said that from there they looked to the Clark County employees to host a food drive. Clark County broke up into teams and had a friendly competition. In total they collected 10,131 items for the food drive.

Most recently, the city employees are collecting food.

For the food drives, McGough reached out to some of the small employment groups that Patterson has always worked closely with, like Alumacraft. She said Troy Tucker, their county judge and board chair, was very helpful in keeping the county employees motivated.

"Our plan is to continue these food drives year round with different businesses," McGough says. "Since we've gotten involved in the program, we have had groups reach out to us and host their own drives or donate money to the cause. When money is donated, the counselors can use it to shop for food, should they run out of what we have collected in the drive."

The counselors seek food that is nutritious, child-friendly, and individually packaged. So they aren’t looking for boxes of rice or cans of green beans; they want things the children can prepare themselves, if necessary. Items that they ask for include Ramen noodles, Spaghetti-Os, individual granola bars, cups of fruit, fruit snacks, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, popcorn, applesauce, and things of that nature.

"I’m so thankful that the community has gotten behind our efforts to support Project CARE," said Cowart. "We are hopeful that we can continue to build this program to help with hunger issues at all school districts in our field of membership."