ST. PAUL, Minn. (Oct. 10, 2017) – Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union staff scaled heights, dug deep, fed the hungry, thanked and entertained veterans and so much more Monday, Oct. 9, during its fifth-annual Plus It Forward Day.
More than 500 staff from the statewide credit union stepped away from their branches and offices across Minnesota to spend a full day volunteering, doing service projects, and surprising people with small gifts and kind words.
Among many other efforts, staff replaced boards on a 70-meter ski jump near Grand Rapids, Minn., where the credit union has a branch, and worked alongside Minneapolis Parks and Recreation groundskeepers to plant hundreds of bulbs in garden beds.
“So many of the projects that we did this year illustrate just how we think about Plus It Forward Day – we like to reach high, accomplish big things and show kindness by living our core values of caring, excellence and integrity,” said Dave Larson, Affinity Plus president/CEO, who spent the day with the credit union’s Duluth, Minn., team.
Andres Gawboy, a rose gardener with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, said the Affinity Plus volunteers gave him peace of mind as the season’s first frost loomed.
“It was a little bit of a scare on how I was going to get all the work done. But they knocked it out of the park and got so much done,” Gawboy said.
Larson said that as the 500 employees dedicated eight hours each – or 4,000 hours overall – to Plus It Forward Day, the credit union estimates it impacted more than 10,000 people statewide.
2013 BEGINNINGS GROW TO INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT
Affinity Plus founded Plus It Forward Day in 2013 as a day to scatter kindness in many of the Minnesota communities in which it has branches, call centers and support-staff offices. Each year on Columbus Day (also known in Minnesota as Indigenous Peoples Day), Affinity Plus employees dedicate eight hours to volunteerism.
In 2015, Plus It Forward Day grew to include 14 credit unions. In 2016, it expanded further to include 25 credit unions, and in recognition of the growth, partnership and impact, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed Monday, Oct. 16, 2016, Plus It Forward Day in the State of Minnesota.
In 2017, Affinity Plus partnered with the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) to rebrand the event as CU Forward Day to include an even-larger group of credit unions, further growing the impact on Minnesota communities. MnCUN estimates that 37 credit unions dedicated 12,000 volunteer hours in 80 communities across the state.
“Just like in the past four years, our fifth Plus It Forward Day demonstrated the incredible impact Affinity Plus employees can have across our state,” Larson said. “When we launched it in 2013, we never imagined this day of kindness would grow so much. We love that it’s become something bigger than ourselves. Our staff love that we’re part of a movement that continues to impact people, organizations and communities, one act of kindness at a time,” Larson added.
This year, Affinity Plus:
worked with local non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity, to improve housing;
joined together at the Minnesota State Veteran’s Hospital to host a luncheon and provide volunteer support in a sandwich-making service project and other activities;
partnered with food banks and food shelves to pack food and provide meals for local residents;
performed park and nature center clean-up and maintenance;
volunteered at a local Boy’s and Girl’s Club;
visited and brought therapy dogs to nursing homes;
assembled care packages for local homeless shelters;
brought coffee, treats, lunch and thanks to local police and firefighters;
did random gestures of thanks, giving and kindness.
Zoua Moua, an Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union business operations analyst, plants bulbs at Lyndale Park Rose Garden near Lake Harriet in southwest Minneapolis Monday, Oct. 9, during the credit union’s annual Plus It Forward Day. More than 500 employees spent eight hours volunteering across the state. This was the fifth year for the event, which is held each October on Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.