Allegius Credit Union teams up with Marine Corps for annual Toys for Tots campaign

Allegius Credit Union teams up with Marine Corps for annual Toys for Tots campaign

For the past eight years, Allegius Credit Union has been a top contributing member of the Marine Corps’ annual Toys for Tots campaign, a program that provides underprivileged children with toys to make their holidays a special one. Allegius Credit Union’s continued involvement with the program is a testament to its employees’ and members’ dedication to giving back to the community. 

“One of our members, who used to work out at the steel mill and is a Marine Corps veteran, retired and needed something to do in his free time,” said Vice President of Member Development at Allegius, Gary Fossey. “He started the program here in Porter County and is currently the program’s area director. He brought us on in 2013.” 

“It was well-received by our employees and our members,” he continued. “We’ve tried a couple different programs similar to Toys for Tots, but none of them were a great fit. When we started working with Toys for Tots, however, our members were bringing in brand-new toys, bikes, and more. One thing led to another, and our membership and employee involvement grew. In the years following, members asked if they could make cash donations and we obliged by setting collection jars on the teller lines.”

In a normal year, members and employees from the Burns Harbor, Valparaiso, and Hobart branches bring new, unwrapped toys to each location. Starting in November, a box supplied by the Marine Corps is placed in each lobby to hold the toys. With the COVID-19 pandemic and membership foot traffic down for safety concerns, only the Burns Harbor branch was able to participate this year. This did not stop Allegius staff member Courtney Evans from making this year’s campaign just as special. 

“Courtney cares so much about this program,” Fossey said. “Seven years ago, with money that we raised as a credit union for Toys for Tots, she went out and did a ton of shopping herself, buying nice, fun toys for local children to enjoy. She’s been doing that for the past seven years and has become our coordinator with the Marine Corps for this program. Courtney even attended a toy distribution day to see how the program works internally.” 

“Before the Thanksgiving holiday, we began doing Jean Day every Friday until toy pick up in mid-December. So, employees who want to wear jeans on a Friday could pay $5 to do so, and that money goes to our Toys for Tots efforts,” Fossey said. “Because of the pandemic, we started Jean Days earlier in the year. We knew we wouldn’t get the same participation this year, so our employees really stepped up to provide kids a special Christmas this year.” 

Allegius raised $3,700 this year from Jean Day donations, member donations, and the credit union’s own donations, providing 280 toys and an additional 20 toys bought by members to benefit 2,200 children in the area. 

“In the lifetime of our involvement with the Marine Corps, we have raised over $18,000 and purchased over 2,600 toys for Porter County children,” Fossey said. 

Their efforts this year are especially welcomed as the COVID-19 pandemic has put families and kids in difficult financial situations during the holidays. 

“2020 has been a very difficult year for families, and for some with job loss and e-Learning, it was even worse. Knowing these gifts gave families some smiles on Christmas morning is priceless,” Evans said. “I’m so honored to be able to participate in the Toys for Tots program and to work at a business where our employees and members are passionate about being able to do this for our community families.” 

“It warms the heart knowing that what we are doing is for our community,” Fossey said. “Every cent we raise for this program goes to buying toys for kids; it’s an authentic and good-natured thing to do.” 

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