Help a Child- Fill the Canoe for the Red Canoe Credit Unions

Harry Dhanraj, of Red Canoe Credit

“Fill the Canoe” is a fundraiser that the Red Canoe Credit Unions across the state are participating in. The Red Canoe Credit Unions are committed to serve their membership and community. They are collecting donated school supplies for children in the community. The city of Puyallup is collecting school supplies August 1st through the 19th 2011. Anybody in the community can drop off school supplies at the following Puyallup locations: Red Canoe Credit Union: 16510 Meridian Street East, Puyallup Fair: 110 9th Avenue SW, The Puyallup School District: 302 2nd Street SE, Chamber of Commerce: 323 North Meridian, and the South Hill Mall.

The school supply list includes: filler notebook paper (wide ruled), college rule notebook paper, spiral notebooks, three ring binders, dividers, Kleenex, school boxes, pencil pouches, crayons, pencils, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, pens, highlighters, bottle glue, glue sticks, erasers, pencil top erasers, scissors, rulers, folders, and backpacks.

Amy Davis, Vice President of Marketing for Red Canoe Credit Union at the Longview, Washington location explained the details of the fundraiser. “Fill the Canoe” was designed to connect the general and business communities to children in need through a partnership with Communities in Schools.  It’s a 3-week program where we place Canoes in our branches and partner with other businesses or service organizations to provide drop off locations in our community.  The public is encouraged to make donations at any drop off locations to Fill the Canoe and the Red Canoe Credit Union will in turn match all donations made pound-for-pound; doubling the power of any generous donation.

According to Amy, in 1937, Red Canoe Credit Union was founded as Weyerhaeuser Timber Company Federal Credit Union in Longview, Washington. Our founders believed if they pooled their money together, they could provide more affordable financial services for everyone. Their vision became reality and for over 70 years, we’ve been providing affordable financial solutions for our members.

Amy stated, “In 2007, the credit union charted a new course and changed their name to Red Canoe Credit Union…A name that tells our story of delivering a distinctly northwest style of banking…A name that reflects our commitment to being more caring, responsive and passionate about our member’s dreams.”

Communities in Schools have been an instrumental partner for the Credit Union for helping to raise awareness of the school supply program and efficiently getting the donations into the hands of the children.  Over 11,000 students in Federal Way are at or below the poverty level and qualify for assistance through the Fill the Canoe fund. In Puyallup, there are over 6,700 students at or below poverty with 419 identified as homeless.”

The school supply drive has been in existence for five years and three years at the locations that are up north. Amy discussed how “Fill the Canoe” came about, “Red Canoe” started the “Fill the Canoe” school supply drive in 2007 to fulfill a great need in the community of Longview/Kelso, where our home office is.  Over 350 students were registered with the Salvation Army as in need of community support to receive school supplies. After our first year, the number rose to 425. As awareness of the program was also lifted through our marketing efforts, we were able to reach out to 75 more children who were in need and unaware of the assistance provided.  We have since expanded the program into Federal Way and Puyallup where we partner with Communities in Schools for distribution of the supplies.  The program has been running for 3 years in Federal Way/Puyallup and has substantially grown each year as awareness increases; providing us the ability to help even more kids.”

Amy continued, “Fill the Canoe is one of our Credit Union’s largest philanthropic efforts, spanning 4 counties and throughout several school districts.  The idea behind it was pure and simple, there is a need to help children get a good start each year in school and we, the Credit Union, can help fulfill that need.  The school supply drive runs deep within our organization.  Each year we hold a friendly staff competition by department to see who can bring in the most supplies.  Red Canoe is known for its internal culture of professionalism mixed with fun.  Needless to say, we all love working here and we all love a fun competition.  This year, the staffs have already raised over 700 pounds of supplies on their own.  It always gives me a great sense of pride to see how many people love their job and love their community here at Red Canoe.”

Amy detailed the best thing about the fundraiser, “One of the most powerful aspects of Fill the Canoe is the matching donation the Credit Union makes.  Matching all supplies pound-for-pound is a motivator for people.  They know that no matter how much they can afford to donate, it will be matched – making their dollar stretch further.  It has also been a very power tool for us to align with other, smaller school supply drives from churches and service clubs.  Rather than compete for donations, we encourage these groups to bring their donations down to us and load them into the canoe!  We’ll double their efforts as well.”

Gina Smith, Puyallup Branch Manager for the Red Canoe Credit Union, expressed what she thought of the “Fill the Canoe” fundraiser, “We’re passionate about what we do and giving back to the community. And for me, it’s really truly how we feel about it and wanna give back, and what better way than to do it through our school system. Amy mentioned 419 kids in Puyallup that are homeless and that’s just in Puyallup.”

When asked who she would recommend participate in this school drive, Amy replied, “There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  In our ever-growing, highly populated community, this is still very true.  All of us need help from time-to-time and as a parent myself; I can’t imagine a greater pain than seeing a child in need.  Whether its food on the table, shoes on their feet or a backpack full of supplies to start the school year and keep their confidence high, we can all hope for the day that every need can be filled if we work together.”

The city of Federal Way will be collecting school supplies until August 12, 2011 at the following locations: Red Canoe Credit Union: 33616 Pacific Hwy, St. Francis Hospital: 34515 9th Avenue South, Chamber of Commerce: 31919 1st Avenue South, Suite 202, Public Schools: 31405 18th Avenue South, Federal Way Mirror: 31919 1st Avenue South, Suite 101, and Sylvan Learning Center: 32717 First Avenue South, Suite 2.

Amy commented, “For over 70 years, Red Canoe Credit Union has been dedicated to doing business in the most socially responsible manner.  Our core business model revolves around doing what is best for our members and in turn; our community.  We invite everyone to come and help us fill our canoes!” “Come by and drop off school supplies and put them into the canoe. Help a child this coming school year,” Gina concluded.