Credit Unions Keep Communities Merry and Bright this Holiday Season


With the holiday season well upon us (and coming to a close all too soon), now is the perfect time for credit unions to find ways to give back to their members and communities alike. While we enjoy celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year,” as Andy Williams dubbed it, it’s important to remember that the holidays are also the most expensive time of the year. Families can struggle to afford all the seasonal demands on top of basic necessities, from presents under the tree to food on the table.

To help keep the season merry and bright for all, credit unions should flex their cooperative muscles—specifically the concern for community muscle—and offer support to those in need. There are a number of simple yet impactful ways for credit unions to contribute, and many are already leading the way.

Help with gifts

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: toys and gifts. These are easily the priciest parts of the holidays, especially as inflation continues to raise costs. In fact, each year the PNC releases a Christmas Price Index, which calculates the total amount it would cost to buy the Twelve Days of Christmas—golden rings, geese, and all. The intent is to have a baseline with which to measure the impact of inflation on Christmas shopping.

This year, the cost reached a whopping $46,729.86, an increase of 2.7% from last year. While increased prices hardly feel like something to celebrate, it should be noted that this is down significantly from the 10.5% increase of the previous year. Regardless, it’s clear that holiday spending is at an all-time high, and the pressure to deliver is also. In reality though, many families lack the funds for even modest gift-giving.

This is where credit unions can step in and help ensure more families have something under the tree this year. Consider hosting a toy/gift drive at your credit union branches where both credit union and community members can participate by donating presents. These donations can be collected and sent to local organizations that will ensure the gifts make it to families in need.

If you’d like to do something more personal, you can select qualifying families from your own membership base to provide gifts for. These families can make curated lists of things their children need (clothes, shoes, etc.) along with a few fun items as well (toys, games, etc.). If you’re not up for making your own list, there are organizations such as Angel Tree that can match you with families in the community who need help and provide you with details on their holiday wishes.

If you’re looking for something quick and easy, consider giving cash or gift cards to qualifying members to help them purchase gifts. This way the member can be in charge of picking out the presents their family wants and the credit union has less work on their end to coordinate everything. Even a little help can go a long way to making the holidays even more special for many.

But don’t stop with this year’s festivities either. Help members ensure they have the savings next year to match their holiday spending by reminding them of any Christmas Club-type accounts your credit union might offer and how much they would need to deposit each month to meet their goals. By starting early your credit union can help set its members up for success.

Here are some credit unions who took these ideas and ran with them this holiday season:

Help with food

While gifts certainly take the cake in terms of cost, food is no slouch either. Anyone who has walked into a grocery store in the last year or so can attest to the staggering cost of, well, everything. At one point this year, the cost of eggs made them a luxury for many. With holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, extravagant feasts tend to be part of the festivities, but many cannot afford to get food on the table.

To help, credit unions can follow many of the same methods discussed above, substituting toys for food. Host a food drive at your branches and collect canned goods, pasta, rice, and other non-refrigerated items from the community. Alternatively, you can donate food directly to your credit union members or provide gift cards to families in need to buy groceries. You can also combine the ideas from above with this and gift enough money for families to buy food and a few gifts.

If you’re looking for ways to get your staff involved in community giving, consider volunteering at a local food bank or soup kitchen. Not only do these places serve food on the holidays to those in need, but they deliver food to families who cannot make it to the food bank.

Here are a few examples of credit unions who gave their all:

Keep the festivities going

In addition to providing food and necessities for families in need, credit unions can spread holiday cheer with festivities hosted at the credit union or via social media. Offer food and drinks and maybe a few prizes in your branches for attendees.

To bring smiles to those who might be alone on the holiday, many credit unions are also writing letters and making cards for those in care facilities. Some are going above and beyond and using the holidays as an opportunity to pay off a few lucky member’s loans!

These credit unions certainly knocked it out of the park:


However you choose to get involved this holiday season, make sure it’s done with your members’ needs at heart and in the spirit of our founding principles. As pillars of the communities we serve, it’s credit unions’ responsibility to give our communities our all.

From us here at CUSO Magazine, we hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday season!


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