By N3 Holiday Team
You may have seen this posting on social media of late:
The final count is in! Thanks to the overwhelming generosity from community members, customers and employees, we were able to collect 448 Christmas cards, over half were handmade, as well as 378 care package items to send to our troops currently deployed overseas! THANK YOU to the White Cloud, Sparta, Alpine, Standale, Muskegon, Big Rapids, Howard City and Newaygo offices for all of your support for this great cause.
7 care packages were mailed out last week and another 8 are going out this week.
I received a message from one of the recipients. He said that all of the troops are all beyond grateful to everyone that contributed and were really surprised to receive the packages! It really means a lot to them that we are thinking of them during the holiday season.
Thank you, again, everyone!
Rhonda, for those who may not know, is Rhonda Buter who serves as Branch manager of the Newaygo office of Independent Bank and while we at N3 have always been cognizant of her commitment to the community and her kindness toward others we were curious as to how this initiative began.
So, of course, we asked.
“I have a personal friend that is currently serving overseas - sorry, no names or locations! I can say that he is a graduate of White Cloud Public Schools though,” she explained. “ I was discussing with our Community Banker, Colleen Michels, how I planned to make Christmas cards with my daughters to send in a care package to him. Colleen came up with the idea to involve our local offices and community members to create additional cards to send, especially since it was directly supporting someone local.
“In the beginning of November, we created a ‘card station’ at the offices listed below to encourage customers to sign or create a card while they were in the bank. Through social media and different conversations, the effort exploded. We had many community members, both customers and non customers, bringing in stacks of cards and boxes of goodies to donate.
“Local schools also helped by having classes write letters and create cards to send. Employees and their families participated as well. We even received donations from neighboring towns like Fremont.
“My friend was able to get me names of specific military personnel, allowing us to customize each box before mailing them out. A letter wishing them a Merry Christmas with a list of communities and schools who donated was placed inside the box as well.
“ I was told that each individual that received the first round of care packages shared all the cards and items with others at their base. Where they are stationed, there are members of the Air Force, Navy and Marines.Everyone was so surprised and beyond grateful for receiving such meaningful packages.
“It’s been in incredible experience to see such an outpouring support from the community. With every donation or card, there was a story of a Veteran or active military member they knew, how it was a great learning experience for younger students or how someone remembered making cards like this when they were a child.”
Kudos to Ms. Buter for giving the idea a bit of traction and to Independent Bank for carrying the banner to expand this campaign of caring.
In addition to the 8 branches of IB mentioned above here are some of the schools that also hopped aboard the kindness train to support our troops.
Kozy Korners Daycare, Fremont
Preschool class at Fremont Christian School
Kindergarten and 1st grade classes at White Cloud Public School
Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes at All Saints Academy in Grand Rapids
Kindergarten class in Howard City
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”– Dale Evans Rogers