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2010-12-12 / Community View

Security Credit Union teams with Holiday Depot for local charity drive

BY CARRIE RACOSTA
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Alecia Houvener (below, from left), Steve Flores, Sue Scramlin, Michelle Cron, and Elaine LaGasse are just a few of the many staff from Security Credit Union involved in collecting goods for Holiday Depot. Holiday Depot’s distribution center is full of toys and gifts for low-income families, including toys (above) and household items. Alecia Houvener (below, from left), Steve Flores, Sue Scramlin, Michelle Cron, and Elaine LaGasse are just a few of the many staff from Security Credit Union involved in collecting goods for Holiday Depot. Holiday Depot’s distribution center is full of toys and gifts for low-income families, including toys (above) and household items. LAPEER — This month last year Security Credit Union’s Vice President, Katie Krane, bundled up 30 bags full of Christmas contributions to take to the Holiday Depot, and she and her staff are eager to help again this Christmas.

Red donation boxes are set up in each of the five branch offices in Lapeer County. Members and nonmembers are welcome to stop in and contribute goods.

“We chose to be a part of this because it supports the community in which we work and live. It stays in our county and helps low-income families,” said Krane. Although, they accept many items, the credit union is focusing on collecting personal grooming products like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste which are extravagances for those in need.

“We’ve been doing these drives around Christmas for a while, and it makes me really happy to know that we’re helping the community and those less fortunate during the holiday season. We’ve always been a small-town credit union, kind of catering to our community, and this is a great way for us to give back to our members and the people in our town. People think that because of our merger last year with Security that we’re kind of moving away from the small-town feel and business ideas, but we’re still very much a part of the Lapeer community and we want to maintain a relationship with Lapeer and the residents,” said teller Alexander Petrie.

“Organizations like Security Credit Union enable us to do what we do. It takes all kinds of help to make it work,” says Karen Rykhus, head of Holiday Depot. “The staff, members, and public there and at other participating locations make what we do possible. She says, “Over half of the families we help are the working poor. These people have jobs and are trying but they still can’t make ends meet.” She goes on to say, “for some of these people paper towels are a luxury item.” Rykhus feels the rewards are immense, especially when she knows how hard people try to make Christmas special and each day of their lives comfortable for their families.

“Holiday Depot started with two women who felt it would be great if those in need did not have to apply at separate locations and through different organizations for programs to get all their holiday needs met. This way a single database can supply various items to applicants through one forum. In this way, we are able to help the most people,” said Rykhus. She goes on to say, “The real reward from our work is seeing the families experience a Christmas they wouldn’t otherwise.”

Rykhus’ fellow volunteer and distribution center manager, Marcia Cardona, knows how the families who apply feel and also what satisfaction there is in volunteering. “Nineteen years ago I applied for Holiday Depot aid. This great program touches lives and was there for my family and I. For the last 18 years I have been a volunteer for the organization so I can give back to others in my community,” she said. Cardona goes on to say, “It also teaches my children the importance of volunteering and they have also helped out at the distribution center.”

Located on West Genesee in Lapeer, the Holiday Depot distribution center also serves as a place where applicants who do not get “adopted” by businesses can still come select toys for their children so they don’t miss out on a Christmas experience.

“I feel that it is great that Security Credit Union is helping needy families during the holidays. You never know who may need help these days. It may seem like your neighbors are doing great but in reality they may be struggling to make ends meet. I feel that nobody is exempt from the poor economy and any little bit may help,” said Security member service representative Amy Womble from the Metamora branch.

Krane, of the main branch, speaks highly of the town in which she lives and works and is proud of her community. “We love helping people and also have contributed to Habitat for Humanity as a Silver Sponsor and contributed to Light Up Lapeer,” she said. “Security Credit Union has always been committed to helping the community. It is especially important at this time of year to help out those that are less fortunate. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays.”

Holiday Depot, with the assistance of businesses and the general public, have helped more than 650 families, but they emphasize that there are many more families in need of charitable donations. For these families, every contribution, no matter the size, makes a difference.

Donations such as toys, household items, food, and gifts can be dropped off at Security Credit Union as well as Walmart, Pamida, Ray C’s, Big Lots, Brian’s Restaurant and all Lapeer County libraries through Dec. 17 to help low-income families celebrate the season of giving.

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