Good citizens

Fady Elias, manager of the Owosso Citizens Bank branch, on Monday presents Shiawassee Goodfellows President Rob Dorcey with an oversize check for $2,500 — the prize for Goodfellows winning the bank's coveted 2019 Credo Champion for Community Award.

SHIAWASSEE COUNTY — Shiawassee Goodfellows is one of only 10 organizations to receive Citizens Bank’s annual award for community service, chosen from among nominations made by the bank’s 1,200 branches.

The Credo Champion for Community Award, which honors people and groups that perform exemplary service in the communities were Citizens does business, was awarded last week.

Shiawassee Goodfellows will use the $2,500 prize to purchase winter clothing for 40 to 50 area children in need this winter, chapter President Rob Dorcey said.

“I was surprised by the award, because there are a lot of great nonprofits in Shiawassee County,” Dorcey said. “We feel privileged to be chosen by Citizens. The money will to go to great use, keeping our children in Shiawassee County warm.

“A great thank-you goes out to Citizens Bank on behalf of myself and the Shiawassee Goodfellows, and our entire organization.”

The annual award was created in April 2007 by Citizens Bank as part of its Citizens Helping Citizens program, which strives to enhance “quality of life and economic vitality” in local communities.

Each of the bank’s 1,200 branches, located in 11 states, could nominate an individual or organization for the Credo Champion For Community Awards. In Owosso, the nominee was selected from a short list of area nonprofits by a vote of branch employees.

The 10 award winners are chosen by Citizens at the corporate level. This is the first time a nominee from the Owosso branch has made the grade.

“We have a long relationship with Shiawassee Goodfellows, and we got a lot of feedback from our employees about the work they do, providing winter closing in the community,” said Fady Elias, manager of the Owosso Citizens Bank branch. “For many years, we have donated more than 1,000 hats, scarves and mittens to Goodfellows. We know the (award) money will be put to good use.”

Shiawassee Goodfellows have been helping hundreds of local children stay warm every winter since the Great Depression through their “Wrap a Child in Warmth” campaign. Since the organization began, more than 18,600 local children have been served.

Last year alone, the organization spent $21,000 to serve 509 children. Often, volunteers from Goodfellows take the kids shopping, usually at Meijer store in Caledonia Township, enabling them to pick out their own hat, scarves and mittens.

Meijer has been a longstanding supporter of the drive. Last year, the 100-plus Women Who Care of the Greater Owosso Area gave Shiawassee Goodfellows a $24,000 gift.

The heart of the “Wrap a Child in Warmth” campaign takes place in early December, when for two days about 100 volunteers collect donations on street corners throughout Owosso, Corunna and Caledonia Township, in exchange for a newsletter.

Every penny received goes to purchase winter wear for local kids referred by their schools. There’s no administrative costs because Goodfellows is an all-volunteer group.

Which means the $2,500 Credo Champion for Community Award can make a real difference for area children this winter.

“I feel very lucky,” Ed Hildebrant, former president of Shiawassee Goodfellows, said. “I think Citizens thinks of us as their first-line charity. I’m very grateful, and I’m sure everybody in Goodfellows is grateful.”

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