America First volunteers were busy giving back during the week of Thanksgiving. They spent hours taking inventory of stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy packets, and more at the For the Kids facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. On the morning of November 21, they organized 70 Thanksgiving meals for families from M. Lynn Bennion Elementary School and 50 more for Robert Frost Elementary School. For the Kids Program Director Paul Welsh understands the impact it will have on communities in need, “The volunteers at America First stepping in and helping like this has provided such an emotional lift to those who otherwise would go without. Fighting hunger can be a silent struggle for so many out there and this kind of contribution makes such a difference.”
The meals go a long way to help families coming from Title I schools. Title I is a federal education program that supports low-income students throughout the nation. Funds are distributed to high poverty schools, as determined by the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
In addition, over 200 Thanksgiving meals were handed out at Catholic Community Services on November 22 by several employees of America First. Families were also able to enter the building and take the shopping cart which had already been prepared with everything needed for a delicious holiday feast.
Rachel Martin of Catholic Community Services said, “We really appreciate America First for always being there to support us! With a small staff of only 11 employees, we rely on volunteers to keep our food pantry running. For our Thanksgiving holiday food handout event this year, we have 860 households signed up to pick up their Thanksgiving dinner box. Each dinner box includes a turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, onions, etc. to provide a holiday meal to individuals and families in the community facing food insecurity. America First has played a huge part in making this a success.”
This comes about a month after the America First Charitable Foundation food drive produced over 110,000 meals to many families who are food insecure. You can donate to this worthy cause all year round by going to americafirst.com/donate.
The battle against hunger has always been a key emphasis for America First EVP Chief Strategic Engagement Officer, Tammy Gallegos. “We have an important responsibility in our communities to be a part of the solution to help children and families in need. Fighting hunger is always going to be a major priority when helping those we serve. We’re honored to help give families a warm and fulfilling Thanksgiving, but most importantly hope they feel our genuine love and care for them.”
America First Charitable Foundation volunteers spent time creating snack/drink bags, stocking pantry shelves, putting together hygiene kits, and organizing baby items, feminine products & cleaning supplies on shelves at Tabitha’s Way on August 30th.
Tabitha’s Way is a part of the Community Assistance Program at America First, which allows members to donate to worthy causes. When donations are made to the Community Assistance Program, members can be assured that every penny is dedicated to the disadvantaged in our communities. Nothing is held back or used for administrative or other purposes.
America First volunteer Sophia Nelson was elated about the opportunity to be a part of the project. “I loved working at Tabitha’s Way,” she said. “They help so many people and it was an honor to volunteer for a worthy cause. I was so impressed at what is donated to this cause and would do it again.”
Tabitha’s Way was founded in 2010 in Spanish Fork by Wendy & Jody Osborne, who hoped to help those in need in South Utah County. It has since expanded to now serve many families & individuals from Lindon to Cedar Fort with an additional location in American Fork.
Anyone wanting to donate to Tabitha’s Way can do so by visiting their website at tabithasway.org.
Funding for the Community Assistance Program is provided through member donations. Collection boxes are available for cash donations at each America First location, or you can set up an automatic withdrawal from your account.
Donations can also be given online by submitting your request through the secure online banking messaging system.
America First volunteers spent many hours organizing supplies, filling backpacks, and handing them out to several underprivileged children who are headed back to school this month during our annual Backpack Bonanza.
Many of the funds, items, and backpacks were donated by America First Credit Union employees during the previous month. Donation boxes were placed in common areas throughout departments and branches to gather supplies. Employees were also able to donate through the transfer of funds to an AFCU Charitable Account. Employees donated over $4,500 in cash.
It was a busy morning at Catholic Community Services. Volunteers formed an assembly line and stuffed the backpacks with pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, note pads, crayons, markers, and other necessary items to help the kids start the upcoming school year on the right foot.
They also spent hours shopping for items and selecting backpacks. Several school items were sent to specific schools and children in the Clark County School District (Nevada), Phoenix Elementary District (Arizona), Davis School District (Utah), and Canyons School District (Utah).
America First Charitable Foundation Administrator, Jordan Gibson, was emotionally moved by the Backpack Bonanza experience, “It’s always important to help families in need and being a part of Backpack Bonanza was truly special,” he said. “Watching a child’s eyes light up with a new backpack and then to hear their excitement when they go through it finding all the different items it contained was beautiful. One little boy picked out a backpack, stared at it and hugged it. I can’t really describe the feeling it gave me.”
America First Charitable Foundation volunteers spent the morning of August 16th painting the streetlights in the city of Ogden. Volunteers arrived before 9 a.m. at the Junction prepared to clean the streetlights, tape the borders, and give a fresh coat of paint to liven up the area.
Ogden City Volunteer Manager Stacey Olsen understands the value and impact of volunteers for a project like this one, “We can’t thank America First Credit Union enough for supporting Ogden City! The positive energy and excitement of those helping us complete these projects makes a big difference. Volunteers like the people at America First genuinely change our community and we’re so grateful.”
The painting took around two hours to complete and is one of the many projects in Weber County that the America First volunteers have been a part of. Back in the spring they planted flowers at the Ogden Municipal Building and in the summer, they spent time painting numbers on the bleachers and cleaning up after the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo.
America First Charitable Foundation volunteers spent the morning of August 5th selecting clothes for approximately 400 at-risk youth during the annual Child Spree Event while donating $15,000 towards new pairs of shoes. Kohl’s joined forces with the Davis Education Foundation hosting the shopping spree at the Clinton, Layton, and Centerville locations.
Several volunteers arrived as early as 6 a.m. to get started, while numerous Kohl’s employees were there well before their regularly scheduled shifts to assist, making it a heart-warming success for everyone. While the children were not in attendance for the shopping, they did submit videos to inform the shopper what they like and to express their appreciation.
Mady Dawson, the Events Planning Manager at America First Credit Union, was emotionally touched by the experience. “I couldn’t help but to fall in love with the little girl that I was shopping for! She was adorable and it made the experience so special to be a part of. Every child should feel enthusiastic about the thought of going back to school and starting a new year. I’m so happy that she’ll be heading to school with cute clothes, and I was able to find her favorite shirt that she asked for!”
“Child Spree morning is one of our favorite events of the year,” said Jodi Lunt, Executive Director of Davis Education Foundation. “Our goal is to ensure that every child has the resources they need to succeed in school. When basic needs are met, these students can feel more comfortable and confident at school and gear their focus towards participating in the classroom. We are so grateful for community partners and volunteers who continue to make this initiative possible.”
Over $55,000 worth of school clothes were purchased to aid children who will need it for the upcoming school year. Anyone wanting to donate to the cause should visit dsdgive.net.
America First volunteers spent the morning of August 2nd packaging food for children that are in danger of being food insecure. For the Kids is a program that specializes in fighting against childhood hunger for students who are on the Federal Free Lunch program. Volunteers pack food together to keep kids’ stomachs and pantries full during the weekend. Kenzie Richardson, the
Operations Assistant at For the Kids, is thankful for the boost, “For The Kids is honored to make a difference in the local community with America First Credit Union through their America First Charitable Foundation. With their focus on helping to aid those in need, we have been able to make a real impact on local children struggling with food insecurities. We currently provide weekend meal kits to 400 kids, which would not be possible without socially conscious cooperatives like AFCU in our corner. We are grateful that AFCU believes in what we do, and we are inspired by all that they do in our communities.”
Program Director Paul Welsh understands how critical this program is for the emotional state of children. “Hunger can be a silent struggle and when volunteers want to step in and contribute to those fighting hunger, it gives so many people an emotional lift. We’re so appreciative of America First Credit Union for their monetary contributions obviously, but also for coming out to help us package items that will help so many children in need.”
For the Kids started back in 2012, when founder Minda Zoloth wanted to act on returning the favor after receiving valuable help from others at an early age while she was experiencing hardships. “I started out by simply wanting to feed as many kids as I could, and what has happened is that I found so many more people, just like me, that wanted to help. And together we not only feed hundreds of kids, but we are also giving these kids hope.” Minda said.
America First Charitable Foundation plans helping For the Kids with packing food and delivering it to various families. Mady Dawson is an Event Planning Specialist with America First and she understands that passion and empathy plays a vital role when positively impacting the community. “Putting the bags of food together was truly special and the enthusiasm of the organization’s staff made the experience even better,” she said.” “A simple donation does so much to help these kids in need, but being there in person, putting your name on the wall, seeing the smiles, and feeling the love at the facility gives you something that can’t be described.”
Anyone interested in donating to For the Kids can visit forthekids.org. The cost is just $7 to feed one kid for an entire weekend.
America First Charitable Foundation joined forces with Young Automotive Group to put together 4,000 pantry packs for children currently fighting hunger. It was all part of the Young Caring for our Young 10,000 Pantry Pack Challenge.
Tami Olsen, the director for Young Caring for our Young, knows the importance of both organizations having a congruent mindset when it comes to giving back. “We are so grateful for our partnership with America First Credit Union. Their support allows us to make a huge difference in our community. Whether it’s helping us provide pantry packs to over 10,000 kids, supporting our Healthcare Heroes Campaign, or our KIND Fund, America First really steps up. Not only through financial support, but through their volunteer efforts, their Foundation, and the leadership. And their employees are top notch.”
Volunteers strategically laid out all items at 6 a.m., then carefully packaged food for teachers, who will distribute them to students to take home over the weekend. Due to one in six kids being food insecure, weekends and school breaks are challenging for those who don’t receive regular meals.
America First EVP Chief Strategic Engagement Officer, Tammy Gallegos has always carried a service-first mindset that has become core principle of the credit union. “We’re so proud to join Young Automotive in the fight against childhood hunger. We have an important responsibility in our communities to be a part of the solution and help children in need. I can’t thank Tami and her team at Young Automotive enough for the passion and love they’ve put into this.”
Fighting childhood hunger and helping children in need continues to be a major focus of America First Credit Union. The annual food drive takes place in September and October, our Backpack Bonanza provides school supplies to underprivileged children, and the Warm the Soles Program surprises kids with a new pair of shoes during the holidays.
America First volunteers were heavily involved with preparations for the Pioneer Day weekend celebration in Ogden. They painted the numbers on the south bleachers of the Ogden Pioneer Stadium, followed by cleaning the venue before the upcoming celebration. Volunteers also showed up after the events were over to help take down signs and wrap up another successful year of the rodeo.
AFCU volunteers help put numbers on the south bleachers at Ogden Pioneer Day Stadium.
McKaylie Richins, former Miss Rodeo Utah and America First’s Events Planning and Management Coordinator, knows the importance of the work that takes place before and after events at the stadium. “It is awesome that America First Credit Union not only sponsored the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo and celebration, but also had the opportunity to volunteer with them this year,” she said. “From painting the bleachers to garbage cleanup, we had so many willing employees volunteer. It takes a village to put on such a spectacular production and how awesome is it that we could be a small part of it! Thank you to the Ogden Pioneer Days committee for this opportunity.”
Ogden Pioneer Days was established in 1934 and draws more than 30,000 people a year. Their annual rodeo is consistently ranked as one of the top outdoor rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
While the Days of ‘47 celebration honors the arrival of Mormon settlers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, Ogden Pioneer Days commemorates Ogden’s own storied past. The celebration played a vital role in the economic health of the community during The Great Depression. The event capitalized on the rodeo interests of wealthy cattle ranchers and tourists while lifting the spirit of the community.
America First Charitable Foundation volunteers spent the morning of July 1 sorting items, packaging hygiene kits and organizing them for distribution at the Davis School District Teen Center.
It’s part of the program known as The Greater Good, which looks for opportunities to enrich the lives of those in neighboring communities.
America First’s Events Planning and Management Coordinator, McKaylie Richins was ecstatic about the turnout and how productive the event was. “I am so glad we were able to organize items at the DSD Teen Center Warehouse to aid the homeless teens in Davis School District,” she said. “I encourage everyone to either volunteer with them or donate items. All too often we take for granted what we have, and I am grateful we got to volunteer and be a small part of this program.”
More than 1,300 teens in Davis County are classified as homeless and go without the basic daily items necessary to help them succeed, while 16,000 kids in the district are financially insecure. The teen center gives them as safe place to shower, do laundry and access resources.
Teen Center Warehouse Manager, Ginger Coulam, was overjoyed about the impact of the project: “We can’t thank America First enough for their time and effort organizing hygiene kits at the foundation warehouse. Having hygiene kits available truly makes a difference in the day-to-day lives of our students in need. Many of these kids lack access to the most basic of essentials that we so often take for granted. The extra hands and smiles made a world of difference. What would normally take us days of work, they got done in just a few hours.”
The Davis Education Foundation continues to be valuable to so many kids in need. They recently raised more than $86,000 at their annual fundraising gala sponsored by America First Credit Union at the Megaplex Movie Theatres in Centerville, Utah.
“We’re so grateful for the help and community partnership of America First.” Ginger said.
The Davis Education Foundation started in 1982 and has helped 72,000 students, 8,000 teachers and 90 schools. Anyone wanting to be involved in helping with the Teen Center or the Davis Education Foundation should contact Ginger Coulam at GCoulam@dsdmail.net.