by Shawn Marie Brummer, Communications & Media Specialist
A large apartment fire that displaced many residents of the Edgewater Apartments last January in Pierre, South Dakota thankfully left no casualties, but the severe damage to the complex left many residents homeless. As reported in the Memo previously, staff at Oahe Federal Credit Union quickly sprang into action, and through social media, began spreading word that they would accept household donations for the people affected by the fire, and that an account had been established for cash donations at the credit union.
“When my coworker Jaymason Bramblee and I saw the social media posts about the fire, we knew that we needed to do something quickly to help these families,” said Julia Diedrich, Assistant Manager/Loan Officer at Oahe FCU. “It was just heartbreaking. We posted on the credit union’s Facebook page about opening our office for donations for the fire victims, and the response was incredible,” she added.
The fire started the evening of January 14th, and by the next day, the credit union was accepting donations and continued to do so until March 4th. Donations from people all over the state came pouring in – ranging from $10.00 to as much as $500.00. Credit union friends such as Alloya Corporate, Sentinel FCU and Black Hills FCU pitched in as well, along with several businesses who donated upwards of $10,000.00 under the condition of anonymity. Other local business assisted with their own fundraisers; Dairy Queen collected donations in a tip jar, The Silver Spur donated 10 percent of sales for two days, and Wegner Auto, the local car dealer, donated $100.00 for every car they sold from January 15 through the end of February.
Besides distributing household and personal items for the fire victims, Oahe FCU recently finished distributing the grand total of $112,730.26 to those affected by the fire. With the assistance of the apartment complex manager, the credit union was able to verify the number and identity of tenants who needed help, and then funds were distributed to each person in each apartment. Distributions were made on four occasions two weeks apart to get the cash to families as quickly as possible.
“The staff here at Oahe got to see firsthand how grateful these residents were, and how touched they were for the help of so many people,” said Jaymason. “We thank everyone who helped in this fundraising effort – we could not have done this without your generosity!”
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