ALBANY — For the past three decades, SEFCU, its employees, and its members have rallied together to support individuals and families in need during the holiday season through SEFCU’s annual Holiday Sharing Program.
Holiday Sharing is SEFCU’s single most collective effort to support the communities across its footprint. It is funded annually by SEFCU and donations from employees and members that are used to provide people and families with presents and essentials, including warm clothing, cookware, cleaning supplies, and toiletries.
This month SEFCU donated more than $200,000 worth of gifts to people in communities across the Capital Region, Buffalo, Binghamton, and Syracuse.
“This has been an outstanding program since we started it 30 years ago with a couple of families, and it has grown since then. We have children and families that can have a brighter season than they otherwise would have, and the impact on our staff and those that have the opportunity to give is equally as important, especially this year, especially now,” said SEFCU President and CEO Michael Castellana. “With all the stress that everyone is feeling – with all that is going on in the world – it could not have come at a better time. I am grateful to all our employees and members who joined the effort to give people hope, happiness, and a helping hand. Holiday Sharing truly signifies the spirit of the season.”
This year, more than 3,500 individuals will be supported through the Holiday Sharing Program. Teams of SEFCU employees wrap all the gifts and prepare them for pickup or delivery to 75 nonprofit organizations who distribute them.
One of those nonprofits is Wildwood Programs, an organization based in the Capital Region that provides supports and services to people of all ages with developmental disabilities, complex learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders.
“Picture yourself maybe a 40- or 50-year-old adult with a disability and think how lonely and sad the holidays can be if there’s nothing there for you. Then you get a bright, wrapped gift of something you asked for – think of the joy that brings. It’s not just the item, it’s knowing the community cares for you,” said Wildwood Programs Director of Communications Tom Schreck. “The love that pours out from what SEFCU does is unbelievable. For an organization like ours, it means so much.”
This is SEFCU’s biggest year since Holiday Sharing started in 1991. Since then, this program has raised and donated nearly $2 million worth of gifts to spread joy and hope during the holidays.