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1st Financial FCU, Nonprofit Partner to Support Low Income Students

As part of the vision of “helping our members achieve their financial dreams”, 1st Financial created the Helping People 1st Grant to support organizations who are working to help members of the community achieve personal or financial growth in the areas of housing, financial literacy, job training or education. In October, the downtown branch on Washington Avenue chose to sponsor the Little Bit Foundation.

The Little Bit Foundation (Little Bit) was founded in 2001, and it has grown into an organization serving 5,000 elementary and middle school students in 17 St. Louis area schools. Ninety to 100 percent of the students in Little Bit schools are at, or near the poverty level.

Little Bit is committed to helping disadvantaged school children by creating a positive impact for personal growth, increasing self-esteem and encouraging a more focused and active learning environment. Little Bit volunteers do this by building strong relationships and partnering closely with St. Louis schools.

“The work they do is amazing,” said Karen Neel, Branch Manager for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union. “We chose to work with the Little Bit Foundation because they work with schools to provide everything from personal hygiene items to clothing, shoes and coats to school supplies.”

Neel shared that Little Bit had recently held a book fair where every child received two books to take home.

“Another wonderful thing about their organization is that they stay at the schools instead of just dropping items off," she says. "Each school has a 'store' where the kids can get what they need or order it and Little Bit finds it for them. They also work with affiliates that come out and do health screenings and eye exams on site, often letting the kids walk out with their prescription in the same visit.”

Employees of the Washington Avenue branch promoted Little Bit to members inside the lobby, held a month long bake sale and raffled off holiday themed baskets. In addition to the fundraising efforts within the branch, 1st Financial added $500 to the overall contribution as a part of the Helping People 1st Grant. On November 10, 1st Financial employees presented a check totaling $1,291.04. 

"This gift has come at an ideal time, as we prepare students for the cold months ahead, with warm new coats and winter wear," said Rosemary Hanley, executive director of the Little Bit Foundation. "Only through the generous support of community leaders, such as 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, can we continue to fulfill our vision of breaking down barriers to a child's education, and we are very grateful."

Caption: Pictured are Karen Neel, branch manager for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; Amy Lottes, director of Development for the Little Bit Foundation; Lucy England, volunteer manager for The Little Bit Foundation, Rosemary Hanley, Executive Director for The Little Bit Foundation, Carol Triplett, Director of Distribution for The Little Bit Foundation, Lexie Purcell, Programs/Operations Vista for The Little Bit Foundation, Cleo Fisher, development Vista for The Little Bit Foundation, and Carmen Shropshire, volunteer Vista for The Little Bit Foundation.