Credit Union Surprises Hundreds with Tangible Gifts of Love
Love in Action. It’s a tagline that perhaps brings a mental image of a nursing home ministry, outreach to single moms, or perhaps an organization that aids the destitute. What about a credit union? Not likely! However, hundreds of people in the Springfield, Missouri, area may very well think of at least one credit union in a whole new light.
On Oct. 10, the Assemblies of God Credit Union (AGCU) did something unusual — they had 60 of their employees and board members giving money away!
Bruce Webb, president & CEO of AGCU, explains that AGCU is one of about 350 faith-based credit unions in the United States. Recently, several CEOs of these credit unions have been discussing a book called, God is My CEO. One of the chapters of the book was on the Herschend family, the owners of Silver Dollar City amusement park in nearby Branson.
“One of their objectives was to lead with love,” Webb says. “And that led me to think about what our role in the community should be and what we can do to shine the light of Christ on our community.”
Webb, who’s been leading AGCU for just over a year, says in the past, the credit union would close for the day for staff development, but that was very inward focused. With the impetus of the book, Webb decided to do something totally different and look outward to inspire employees and bless the community through random acts of kindness.
“We gave each employee $100 in $5 bills and sent them out in teams of three to give the money away,” Webb says. “We positioned them at restaurants, gas stations, medical centers, coffee shops, and other places around town and they could choose who to give the money to and how much they wanted to give.”
Although a credit union giving $6,000 away might raise some eyebrows, Webb explains that part of AGCU’s charter is that they tithe 10 percent of their earnings back into the community through educational scholarships, church ministry, and humanitarian needs. Webb says this fell under the humanitarian umbrella.
Participants were given T-shirts with the tagline “Love in Action” on the front and “AGCU Cares” on the back to wear for the effort. Businesses were also contacted ahead of time to obtain permission to perform these acts of kindness at their locations. In fact, when the local Chick-fil-A was contacted, they donated 275 free sandwich cards to be added to AGCU’s effort!
“That was one of my hopes,” Webb says, “that some of the businesses would catch the spirit of what we were doing and join in the giving. Chick-fil-A really stepped up.”
To distribute the money, employees simply approached people who were about to pay for their purchase and say something on the order of, “Hi, I’m from the Assemblies of God Credit Union and I’d like to give you $5 to help pay for some of your gas.” Of course, people would be surprised and conversations ensued. Webb says sometimes at the gas station that he was at, he would also clean people’s windows just to help them have a better day.
Robin Bond, HR Manager, who was with a team at a local medical clinic, where quite a number of people who don’t have health insurance or little to no income frequent, says her experience was personally very rewarding.
“We were assisted by a couple of the staff there to help us identify people who truly had a need,” Bond says. “There was one gentleman there who needed some dental work and was in a lot of pain, but didn’t have the $40 needed to do the work. He was on his phone with his wife trying to figure out where they could get the money. He almost cried when we gave him the money and he gave me a big hug!”
God would also prompt Bond to approach a ragged-looking gentleman in a wheelchair who had left the clinic before being helped. When she told him that they were there to help him, the man expressed great surprise that anyone would want to help him. Then he shared that he left because he was having chest pains. Bond would hurry back into the clinic and get some medical assistance — shortly afterward, an ambulance was summoned as it appeared the man could have been in mid-heart attack. “God had us in the right place and the right time to help that man,” Bond says.
Several times during the outreach people were so touched by Love in Action, they paid the blessing forward, with one man just giving one of the teams $20 to include with the money they were distributing to others.
Webb would later receive a letter of thanks from a rural, trivocational (three jobs) pastor who had his lunch paid for through the effort. He had taken time off from one of his jobs to visit a member of his congregation in a Springfield hospital. He explained that when his meal was paid for, it touched him deeply, stating:
It wasn’t $10 — it was a stress reliever, reimbursement for lost pay, a blessing to my family, and it was a meal. Your kindness sure made my day and touched our family . . . thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Webb said that in their debriefing following the Love in Action effort, a number of employees reported people shedding tears when they were gifted some money. Employees also shared how they felt blessed themselves in being a part of the effort and gave strong support for participating in more Love in Action events.
“It’s a biblical principle,” Bond expresses. “It’s more blessed to give than receive [Acts 20:35]. I think we really saw that and I hope it compels others to do the same.”
This is likely not the last time the people of Springfield will be experiencing Love in Action. Webb says he plans to use the phrase and T-shirts any time AGCU is being the “hands and feet of Jesus” in the community.
“Hopefully,” Webb says, “this will be a spark or act as a catalyst for our staff to incorporate Love in Action in their daily lives as well as for our community to emulate and do similar things.”