What started out two decades ago as a special way of providing a holiday season to remember for children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana has blossomed into an annual giving campaign that distributed nearly $33,000 to local organizations last year.
“In the beginning, a group of employees donated money to purchase coats and toys for the kids,” Peoples Bank Vice President-Mortgage Loan Officer Austin Logue, who has been involved with Community First, the bank’s employee charitable and social committee, since 2002 and currently serves as the group’s chairman, said. “Over time, we progressed gradually. All of the money is raised internally – through generous employee donations and matching funds from the bank.”
As a community bank, Peoples Bank is committed to public service. For more than 100 years, the bank, which serves customers through 12 locations throughout Northwest Indiana, has been involved with what’s happening locally – always striving to find creative ways to support a wide variety of community activities.
“Throughout the year, the bank provides in-kind contributions and financial support for community groups involved in youth activities, housing, health care, education and the arts,” Logue explained. “You’ll also find bank employees volunteering at many of their events. But, the Boys & Girls Clubs have always been a special focus of Community First.
In keeping with the tradition that started two decades ago, Peoples Bank employees raised $10,000 through Community First in order to provide a toy plus a new winter coat, gloves, hat and clothing to 60 Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana members.
“We count on Peoples Bank’s generosity each year,” Marketing Manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana Megan Henning said. “Without their support, we would have Club members who would not have a Christmas at all.”
Beyond that contribution, Community First at Peoples Bank presented year-end donation checks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, Haven House, Legacy Foundation, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and Opportunity Enterprises in 2013. Other nonprofits, such as Sojourner Truth House and Veteran’s Life also received financial support from the group during the year.
“Peoples Bank is an important partner of our organization,” Ryan Smiley, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, said. “Their investment in our Club members is extremely important as we strive to improve daily living and recognize the accomplishments of children who rely on our Clubs. Peoples Bank truly gave the gift of GREAT futures.”
Dedicated to providing youth - from Kindergarten to High School - with a safe place to learn and grow; teaching youth to develop interpersonal relationships; offering youth life-enhancing programs and character and development experiences; and giving youth hope and opportunity; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana operates six Club sites in six cities throughout Lake County, serving more than 11,000 youth, while the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County operates four Club units plus nine Kidstop locations, serving more than 5,000 youth annually.
In addition to supporting Boys & Girls Club members with their holiday contribution and annual donation, Peoples Bank Community First contributed to the Tolleston Project, the reclamation and renovation of the long-abandoned Tollestson Middle School in Gary for the John Will Anderson Gary Club and Community Center which is now open, and also encourages employees to volunteer in the Clubs.
For example, Peoples Bank employees often volunteer to visit the Club sites and present the “Money Matters: Make It Count Program,” one of the Boys & Girls Club Education and Career Development Core Programs, which promotes financial responsibility and independence among Club members ages 13-18 by building their basic money management skills - how to manage a checking account, budget, save and invest, as well as starting small businesses and paying for college.
“We’re an employee-driven group with a committee of 13 individuals from different departments and locations of the bank that meet on a monthly basis,” Logue added. “Along with bringing the needs of other charitable organizations to our attention, this group also helps organize new fundraising ideas. Our employees are very creative when it comes to raising the funds to be distributed by Community First. Casual days are probably our biggest fundraisers – employees contribute $5 to wear jeans and a sweater or other appropriate ‘business casual’ attire on designated days. We had 12 of those last year. Other things like sports pools bake sales and raffles are usually sponsored by different departments during the year - sometimes we have employees who donate items for a raffle (one woman who was moving donated a number of plants from her home) and other times the committee will purchase items like an iPad or a trip for the raffles.”
“Year after year, Peoples Bank includes Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County as part of their generosity, providing a great gift for all the members who call Boys & Girls Clubs their ‘home away from home,’” Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County Director of Resource Development Alison Martin said. “There is nothing like knowing you are making a difference in the lives of children and, ultimately, in the communities in which they live.”