Christmas spirit radiated from the staff at Allegius Credit Union on Thursday, Dec. 15 as toys were carefully packed and collected by the Allegius team and members of Marine Toys for Tots of Porter, Starke, and Jasper County.
Allegius has been working with Toys for Tots for 10 years, and each year has brought in more donations than the previous.
Member Resolutions Manager Courtney Evans has been involved with the donation drive from the beginning, and Member Development and Marketing Manager John Figueroa has worked alongside her to bring it to fruition for the past three years. What started as a small donation drive has turned into a highly-anticipated event that members prepare for months in advance.
“The first year we raised a couple hundred dollars, and every year it's just gotten bigger. Now, the members know that I do all the shopping and that I'm frugal with the funds, but I get quality toys and they look forward to it. October comes around and everyone is ready to donate some money,” Evans said.
While Allegius members bring in a fair share of donations to the office, most of the donations are monetary. Evans then uses the donated money to shop for items and look for sales year-round to ensure the money goes as far as possible. While it takes time, Evans feels the payoff is worth the effort.
“I absolutely love it, and I love feeling the Christmas spirit and magic. Seeing that through a child's eyes makes it all worth it. If doing this and taking up nights shopping and online shopping is going to give that for a family, I will. I'm here for it every single day. I will be doing it until they tell me to stop,” Evans said.
For Figueroa, seeing the Allegius team and its members come together to support children in need is a highlight of the holiday season.
“It's cool to see the collaboration. The members jump on board, the staff jumps on board – it's all-hands-on-deck to support this. Credit unions are all about community, and this is a way for us to give back to the communities that we serve,” Figueroa said.
Over the last 10 years, Allegius has built a strong relationship with local Toys for Tots coordinators. Allegius members and employees are happy to donate to a great cause, and coordinators and volunteers are even happier to receive and distribute their donations.
“Every year it's been phenomenal. The toys we get from them are truly reaching the community. I think they've done a great job, and I think they're an essential cog in helping provide toys for families,” Toys for Tots Coordinator for Porter Stark and Jasper County Dan Tolson said.
Without the help of members and Allegius staff, Evans is confident that the donation drive would be impossible. Evans ensures that each donor’s hard-earned money goes toward making an impact in the lives of many throughout the community.
“I’d like to extend a huge thanks to our membership, our staff, and the credit union for doing the donations they do. I do the shopping, but I couldn't do that without all of the support,” Evans said.
To learn more about Allegius Credit Union, visit www.allegius.org.