Brandon Patch: Suncoast Federal Credit Union Donates $5,000 to ECHO

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The Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation is donating $5,000 to Brandon’sEmergency Care Help Organization (ECHO).

The grant will help fund ECHO’s Back to School Program that provides Brandon-area students with the basic necessities for school.

The grant will provide approximately 250 children with a voucher for a new pair of shoes, socks and underwear, as well as back-to-school items from a clothing closet.  Families of these children will also receive food, personal hygiene products and clothing.

“ECHO’s Back to School Program aligns with our mission to provide children and families with the basic tools to excel in school,” says Mary Tlachac, executive director of Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation. “Students can feel confident going back to school this year with proper necessities such as book bags, shoes, socks, clothing and food.”

Since 1992, the Foundation has donated more than $7 million to various children’s charities and has awarded almost $750,000 in scholarships. The Foundation is sponsored entirely by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, allowing 100 percent of funds contributed to go directly to the organizations and initiatives that assist children in the communities the credit union serves.

“Suncoast has assisted ECHO with our back to school efforts for years,” said Irma DaVila, a former Echo president and current board member. “Grants like this one allow us to reach out to community children and assist with basic needs. That need has grown steadily.”

The Back to School Program takes place Aug. 11 at the YMCA’s Camp Cristina, 9840 Balm Riverview Road in Riverview. Fifteen team members from the credit union will be on-site to assist children and families in selecting book bags and school supplies. Children will also have the opportunity to get free haircuts.

To register, call ECHO at 813-685-0935.

The donation comes on the heels of a recent $40,000 grant from Walmart.

ECHO’s mission is to provide immediate relief in the forms of food, clothing and household items to those residents ECHO services residents of Brandon, Lithia, Dover, Gibsonton, Seffner, Valrico and Riverview who have experienced a recent emergency.

Since its inception in 1987, ECHO has assisted more than 109,000 people, over half of whom were children, with basic life necessities.

Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, chartered in 1934 as Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union, operates 50 full-service branches and serves over 500,000 members in the following Florida counties: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sumter.

With assets of more than $5.2 billion, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the state of Florida and the 14th largest in the United States.

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Urgent Needs at ECHO

ECHO is seeking boys’ and girls’ socks size 6-9½, boys’ underwear in sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, diapers in sizes 4 and 5 and basic hygiene necessities including toothpaste, bar soap, deodorant, shampoo and feminine products.

“If you are out shopping, please consider picking up some of these essential items,” said ECHO Executive Director Stacey Efaw. “You never know who you will be helping.”

Donations may be dropped off at ECHO, 507 North Parsons Ave., Brandon between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information, call 813-685-0935.

Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show

ECHO is currently seeking models and sponsors for its 10th annual Kids Helping Kids Fashion Showset for Saturday, Oct. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hillsborough Community College’s auditorium, 10414 East Columbus Dr., Tampa. This is an opportunity for students ages 5 to 18 to learn about supporting local nonprofits and earn community service hours.

Fashions will be provided by Kohl’s. Children ages 10 and up will model two outfits.

Models expected to raise $100 to participate, including a $25 registration fee.

The ECHO model who raises the most money for the ECHO children’s fashion show will be recognized and crowned “Mr. /Miss ECHO” and will reign until the next year’s show. He or she will receive a sash and will ride on the ECHO float in Brandon’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Every year ECHO provides food, clothing, socks and underwear to more than 5,000 children. This fashion show provides the majority of the financial resources to assist these children.

Visit ECHO online and click on the events tab to register to be a model.

ECHO also seeks sponsorships from individuals and local businesses.  The Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show is ECHO’s largest fundraiser. For more information, contact Kathy Collins at 813-685-0935.