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Giving Back to Our Community

January 3, 2019

2018 A Year in Review  

At First Source we make it part of our mission to give back. In 2018, we helped support our community by giving approximately $300,000, and countless volunteer hours, to help a number of local organizations and thousands of individuals.

Our charitable work does more than simply give a handout; it gives a hand up. In addition to helping many local businesses grow, it provides for basic human needs, a better future, and education. It helps people live smarter, healthier, more independent lives.

It is important to give where we can, get involved, and make a difference to those who need it most. Thank you for helping to support community causes along with us throughout the year. You have truly made an impact.

 Some 2018 highlights include:

  • Started Financial Friday events at the Utica Children’s Museum, and provided financial education for 6,300 students in 77 schools

  • Participated in #GivingTuesday providing an additional $7,000 in funding to local, employee choice charities

  • Matched employee funding to the United Way of Greater Utica, giving over $6,000 to support vital community needs

  • Raised funds for and awareness of The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program and the American Red Cross’s Sound the Alarm event fueling needed participation

  • Helped Kids Oneida provide Thanksgiving meals for 1,000 families and holiday needs for 10 families, including 30 children

  • Joined the NYS Mentoring program

  • Supported economic development in the greater Utica, Rome, Herkimer and surrounding areas

  • Fundraised and participated in multiple charitable walks

  • Supported our Veterans through Flags for Heroes

  • Worked with the Fibonacci Foundation to support STEAM learning for area youth

  • Supported multiple local humane societies

  • Purchased gym equipment for several local schools to help get and keep our kids healthy, in cooperation with the American Heart Association’s Get Moving campaign

  • Supported the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s educational outreach and prevention initiatives

  • Purchased iPads for the Tilton School at the House of the Good Shepherd, and donated blankets to children in need

  • Helped to finance and sponsor the Compassion Coalition’s new Bargain Grocery facility

  • Helped to send visually impaired children to a special ability summer camp

  • Supported many student and semi-professional athletic training programs

  • Aided in youth scholarship programs
     

6 Tips For Giving On a Budget

November 21, 2018

First Source Member managing their holiday finances by getting creative.Manage your holiday finances with a little thought and planning

Start by giving yourself a limit: a fair amount you’re comfortable spending that makes you feel good about giving, but not over-taxed. Remember that simple, heartfelt gifts are much more appreciated than a large quantity of high-priced trinkets. These simple tips can help you make the holiday both rewarding and less of a financial burden. 


1. Make a Plan

Suggest what or how much to exchange, and decide together on a gift limit. You could also exchange something simple, like cookies; or give to charities in each others’ honor. You might even learn that you’re not the only one looking to save.


2. Play Secret Santa

In a larger family or group of friends, everyone can save when you choose names and give to just one person instead of every member of the crew. This method also allows for setting ground rules to save even more, such as limiting the value of the gift. It might even kick off a new tradition for every gift-giving event.


3. Purchase Fewer Items in Larger Quantities

To save both money and time, find a sincere, useful gift, and buy enough for everyone in bulk. You may save on the purchase price, and can sometimes find ways to personalize each one to give them more meaning. Get creative by putting together “gift baskets” for each person full of small, thoughtful items, and personalize each with a note.


4. Enjoy Experiences Together

Suggest a family or friend outing instead of gift exchanges. Everyone can handle their own expenses, and you can keep it simple and fun. Consider an outdoor activity that includes treats, a local play, or a visit to a nearby attraction. Or have a cozy get together at home to save even more. You could also find photos of your experiences from the past year to frame and give.


5. Give the Gift of Your Time

An even better money-saver and a really nice thing to do: volunteer your time in a meaningful way, such as helping on someone’s DIY project, fixing an item they can’t repair themselves, babysitting, or helping out with a big commitment. Make sure it’s something you’re good at, and remember to follow through on the promise to help.


6. Take Advantage of Specials 

Find stores that offer discounts or bonus gifts if you purchase a certain amount, like gift cards (e.g. “Buy a $25 Gift Card and receive a Free $5 Gift Card”). You can apply the bonuses to gifts for others, or put them into your own budget for your needs once the holidays are over. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!


Remember that giving gifts is all about the spirit of generosity, and doing something kind for the receiver of your gift. Pay special attention to their wants and needs, and you’ll always find something special and meaningful to them. Most of all, embrace the joy of giving! 

Have tips you’d like to share? Help others on a budget with your ideas. 
 

Posted in: budget, gifts, giving, holidays, tips

5 Tips To Stay Safe This Halloween

October 11, 2018

For a fun and safe holiday

We all want our children have a fun and safe Halloween. Embrace and teach your kids these 5 basic safety tips, inspired by our friends at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

1. Check Your Route

Plan out your trick-or-treat route in advance. Try to stay in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Try adding reflective tape to costumes or candy bags for extra visibility, and make sure your children carry a flashlight or glow stick when traveling during the evening hours.


2. Tell People No

If someone tries to separate them from the group or take them somewhere without your permission, instruct them to tell people “No!” (have them practice!), and do anything in their power to get away. Identify adults who could help in emergency situations.


3. Take a Friend

Instruct your older children to take friends when trick-or-treating.

Be sure they go in groups and stay together while out. Encourage them to stay in familiar neighborhoods and have a charged cellphone in case of an emergency. 

While trick-or-treating with younger children, be sure to walk with them all the way to the door, and do not let children enter a home (even that awesome haunted mansion) unless you are with them. 


4. Make Sure Mom or Dad has Help

Has “Can I bring a friend!?” turned into you on your own with 20 kids? Consider enlisting another trusted adult to help keep an eye on a larger group. 


5. Attend Organized Parties

Consider organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or in community centers as a good alternative to trick-or-treating.


Live Smarter By Being Vigilant

Find safety in numbers, make sure everyone’s aware of their surroundings, and you’ll all enjoy this Halloween.

Posted in: Halloween, kids, safety, tips, treats

American Cancer Society Road to Recovery® Program

October 3, 2018

Providing Rides to Cancer Treatment

For many years, First Source has provided support to the American Cancer Society, from financial assistance to volunteers and fundraising participation. We recently learned of their Road to Recovery program. This invaluable service pairs cancer patients in need of transportation to their appointments with community volunteer drivers.


The Road to Recovery Program

Every day, there are cancer patients who need to get to treatment, but many don’t have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment, for free. Rides are provided by volunteers like you.



How Does It Work?

Volunteers go to cancer.org or call 800.227.2345 to let the American Cancer Society know you would like to help. You provide your availability and what works best to fit your schedule. When they have a patient in your area in need they will reach out and see if you can accept the opportunity. They further coordinate with you from there.


Who Can Volunteer?

If you own or have regular access to a safe, reliable vehicle, then you’re already on the road to volunteering. You’ll also need:

  • A good driving record

  • A current, valid driver’s license

  • Proof of adequate automobile insurance

  • Completion of the simple American Cancer Society training course

  • Regular access to a cell phone, computer, laptop, or tablet computer, to receive notifications

  • Schedule availability, typically Monday-Saturday, as much or as little as you prefer


Why Volunteer to Drive?

For those patients who cannot drive themselves or have no other means of getting to their treatment, the Road To Recovery volunteers may be the only way for them to receive the treatment they need. It can literally be life-saving. Volunteer drivers say that they get as much from the experience as the patients do.


How Do You Get Started?

You need to submit some basic information to the American Cancer Society, after which a volunteer care specialist will contact you to discuss the program, your expectations, and what you hope to gain from the experience so they can ensure a good fit. Then you’ll take some required training, which is self-paced and takes around 90 minutes. From there you’ll complete a background check, and once approved, provide your schedule availability so you can begin being matched to patients needing transportation. You can offer as much or as little time as you prefer, provide rides one way or both ways, and change your schedule availability at any time.

Visit the American Cancer Society’s website to learn how you can get started. A little of your time can make all the difference in someone’s life.
 

Learn More About Road to Recovery
 

Banzai! Financial Education for Juniors

September 10, 2018

Young kid uses Banzai Financial Education Program

Start Your Child Learning About Money

Play Banzai Junior

Banzai Junior is an interactive money game made especially for kids ages 8-12. Players simulate running a lemonade stand to make money and save for something they want. In this case, it’s a new bike or hoverboard. They practice making basic business decisions, paying expenses, borrowing money, and saving, sometimes without even realizing they’re doing it! To them it’s just a fun game. To you, they’re learning important money life skills. By playing the game and simulating the results of real-world decisions, they learn about how to spend and save properly, and set goals for themselves. 

To get started, you’ll simply need to sign in with an email, and create a unique password. Your child can go through as many times as they like. If they need to stop before they are finished, the program will allow them to jump right back in.

This is a fun way to share financial advice and lessons with your kids, and help them learn values to Live Smarter throughout their lives.

Kids can get started here:

Banzai Junior is part of our full Banzai Financial Education Program, consisting of FREE online financial literacy modules, providing education directly to our Members, to members of our community, and to local schools and teachers for use in their classrooms. They are all available online in self-paced, age-appropriate, fun and interactive modules. We believe that learning more about money management can help us all Live Smarter.
 

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