Duke Credit Union employees spent an afternoon at a different kind of bank as they sorted through boxes of food and hygiene donations and resupplied the shelves of a local nonprofit.
This year marks Duke Credit Union’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate the occasion, staff conducted a March donation drive and then delivered the items on April 5 to Urban Ministries of Durham. This nonprofit, located just three miles from Duke West Campus, works to end homelessness and fight poverty in Durham by offering food, shelter and case management services.
The organization also runs several year-round programs, to include a food pantry, clothing closet and community café, which provided 262,015 free meals last year.
Duke Credit Union, which serves Duke employees, students, alumni and their family members, had both staff and credit union members participate in the March donation drive. The credit union ultimately collected 281.9 pounds of food and 34.2 pounds of hygiene items, which will be used by community members who are homeless, underemployed or stretching limited resources. Donations included canned goods, pasta, coffee, toothpaste, shaving razors and deodorant.
“We couldn’t do anything without collaborating with other agencies, government as well as civic, as well as corporations, but also just an amazing number of volunteers and kind people who donate here,” said Gin Jackson, director of community engagement for Urban Ministries of Durham.
A team of six Duke employees assembled by Melissa Cozart, a Duke Credit Union financial services supervisor, delivered these donations to Urban Ministries on April 5 and then split into two groups to stock the shelves that afternoon. The team transformed piles of miscellaneous gifts into organized resources ready to go to the shelter’s clients.
“What they’re doing is making all of us as staff come in and be able to breathe because we have space and things are organized, and that means we can get (the items) to people in need quicker,” Jackson said.
Duke Credit Union has a history of volunteering with several local organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House of Durham and at events such as Terrific Tuesday, which brings arts and crafts activities to young patients at Duke Children’s Hospital. Cozart has even started a Duke Credit Union community outreach committee with the goal of volunteering with colleagues on a more regular basis.
“I would love for this to be a monthly thing,” Cozart said. “Just an hour or two (of volunteering) could make all of the difference, and it helps take some stress off the staff . . . I think this is the beginning of a partnership.”
Through Duke’s year-round employee giving campaign, Doing Good in the Neighborhood, employees can connect with community service opportunities, receive volunteering ideas, and make a financial gift that benefits local schools, neighborhoods and nonprofits.
Story and photos by James Hardman-Cobb