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Pineywoods Chapter Event Draws 4,000 to Fun Day at Local Zoo
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 7:00 AM

Pineywoods Chapter Event

Last week, we announced in the Leaguer about the Pineywoods Chapter of Credit Unions hosting a free Credit Unions Care fun day at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, on Saturday, April 16. The chapter reserved the pavilion and rented the zoo for the whole day and invited the public to come out and join in on the fun. Early reports after the event show that 3,971 people did just that.

Comparatively, the zoo gets 800 people on an average Saturday in April. To say the event was a success for the zoo and the Pineywoods Chapter—and the Credit Unions Care campaign—is a bit of an understatement. Because of the overwhelming turnout, the snack shack and the gift shop sold out.

How did it all come about?

Chapter President Jonathan Matthews, also CEO of Southland Federal Credit Union, said, "We began talking about this in 2015 when, as a chapter, we ran the Wild About Savings promotion." For that event, they rented the Pines Theater and gave away movie tickets to kids who started a savings account at any of the Pineywoods Chapter credit unions.

Building on that success, the chapter members discussed doing a Wild About Savings event at the local zoo in 2016. Matthews said the members agreed that each credit union could pay $500 toward a Fun Day if the zoo would work with them.

However, things took a slight turn. "It was your Credit Unions Care program that inspired us to change from the Wild About Savings theme to Credit Unions Care," Matthews told Cornerstone CFO Karen Hart. "The credit union managers all agreed it was a wonderful thing to do, to share with the community that credit unions care and work together."

Pineywoods Chapter EventThe chapter's event planners—all credit union staff and leadership—purchased Credit Union Cares T-shirts for employees from every credit union and chapter member to wear the day of the event. 

Cornerstone CFO Karen Hart attended the event. "What a wonderful event the Pineywoods Chapter put on for their community," Hart said. "When I pulled up and saw the sea of red Credit Unions Care shirts and all the credit unions coming together for the good of the community, my heart was warmed."

After experiencing the success of the Fun Day firsthand, Hart told Matthews, "This exemplifies the true meaning of credit unions People Helping People, and shows the world that Credit Unions Care. Your chapter has certainly set the bar for others."

Cornerstone's VP Small Credit Union Development Lorri Gaither said the turnout for the Pineywoods Chapter event was phenomenal. "The scavenger hunt added fun and excitement, while giving the credit union professionals an opportunity to share information about credit unions, distribute financial literacy material for the adults, and coloring books for the kids," Gaither recalled. "The event was well branded with the Credit Unions Care t-shirts and logos abounding, making this a brilliant and collaborative way to bring credit union awareness to the local community."  

Cornerstone's REAL Solutions Director Paula Upchurch noted the many games available to people who attended, along with things like fingerprinting for children, a large selfie booth, financial literacy give-a-ways and hot dogs for the community. "All of the credit unions pulled together a great day for their community. I am so impressed with this outreach event showing the community that Credit Unions Care. I can't wait until next year!"

Matthews hopes other credit union chapters will take the Credit Unions Care concept and find something in their own communities to get behind as a collaborative effort—not just for one credit union, but "for the benefit of the public we serve to educate the public about the credit union difference."

"I think our chapter, as small as it is, was able to pull off something that I will always look back on with pride that I was a small part of," Matthews said.

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