As a child, memories of the holidays are filled with twinkling lights, singing carols, and gifts under the tree. As an adult, our memories focus on other things: the joy in a child’s eyes as they open their gifts, the laughter and comfort of being with loved ones, and the joy of giving to those in need.
This past holiday season was a struggle for many. Jobs were furloughed or lost; students, teachers, and parents alike had to navigate a whole new way of learning; and most unfortunate of all, many seats around the table sat empty.
Our core purpose at Vantage Credit Union is, “Enhancing your life, strengthening our community.” These are not words that we take lightly. This year, we wanted to make sure that the joy and goodwill of the holiday season remained steadfast, despite any setbacks. Every employee was given a $50 gift card to distribute to an individual of their choosing. Whether that was a dedicated teacher, an essential front-line worker, someone struggling to pay for groceries, or someone who would just appreciate a helping hand, our employees were encouraged to add someone to the VCU #nicelist.
Vantage staff shared their experiences and takeaways from the Nice List initiative.
“My husband was excited to share this card on my behalf, and he knew the perfect person. He frequents a local gas station where he’s gotten to know a young father working to make ends meet. We believe it’s his second job. The gentleman thanked him every night for about a week. Thank you for doing this; it obviously helped that young father and his family.”
“The gift card that I received went to a neighbor in my apartment complex. I had already planned on getting her boys each something for the holiday because I knew she couldn’t afford much. When I took their gifts to them, I handed her the card and let her know she could use it for whatever she needed to! She told me she was going to use it to get some groceries. She was over the moon, and I can tell that it really did help her situation.”
“While at the grocery store, I noticed a mom walking with a cane and her daughter in crutches. I felt compelled to give them the gift card as it looked like their holiday season was off to a rough start. Once I gave the woman the card, she explained that her husband was also in the ICU due to an accident that injured all three members of the family. We all had tears in our eyes. I felt really blessed the rest of the day, and it really made me feel the real meaning of Christmas.”
“This was an exciting and emotional experience for me. The gift was given to an educator in the Early Childhood Development Department of the Hancock School District. The next day the card was delivered to her in person at the school. The experience was fulfilling and the highlight of my holidays.”
“I had no hesitation on who I was going to pick: the nurse at my daughter’s elementary school. I have always felt safe, especially during the craziness of COVID-19, knowing she is there for my daughter who has severe asthma. I received a lovely email from her thanking me for considering her for such a gift. It was great to give this to such a selfless person. She deserved it.”
“I couldn’t wait to give my gift card to someone who could use it. I went shopping and saw a woman holding a toddler and 3 other kids. I wished her a Merry Christmas on behalf of Vantage Credit Union and handed her the gift card. She was very appreciative, and her kids all looked surprised. It felt so good to give to those who were not expecting anything and who really appreciated the kind gesture. Thank you for the opportunity.”
“I was $1 short at the drive-thru during lunch and the cashier was incredibly understanding and trusting. She took the money out of her pocket to help a stranger. She was so kind, and I wanted to give her some cheer. When I gave her the card, she was in shock and began to cry! It was such a nice and moving gesture. Thank you, Vantage, for allowing this opportunity!”
“Kim, the owner of 222 Artisan Bakery, has been donating meals and books to children affected by the COVID pandemic. I gave her the card to show my appreciation for everything that she has done for our community.”
“I gave my gift card to a mother with four kids waiting in line at Dierbergs. She said she was a single mother, unemployed, and was extremely grateful for the gift card as it could not have come at a better time. The look on her face was priceless!”
“I passed a woman with a full cart at the Dollar Tree. She was cheerful and seemed truly grateful for what she had. She was polite and courteous which is often hard to find, especially during the holidays. I stopped her and handed her the card. She seemed somewhat surprised and looked around as if it were a prank. She was so thankful. It was a great pleasure to give that on behalf of Vantage.”
“My wife and I gave our gift cards to my friend Kelly, who works tirelessly with What Breaks Your Heart, an organization that helps feed and shelter homeless friends in our community. Kelly is an amazing individual and devotes so much of her time and energy to this cause. We couldn’t think of a better way to support her than by donating our gift cards to her and her efforts.”
“During my nail appointment, I asked my manicurist if she was looking forward to Christmas. She explained that she recently had surgery and had missed work during her recovery. She was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to get her grandson the special Christmas gift he was hoping for. I knew she’d truly appreciate the gift card, so I gave it to her. She was incredibly thankful and said she felt truly blessed. This was an awesome experience, and I’m glad I work for a company that’s so thoughtful.”
“It was such a great feeling being able to help someone out! I hope we do it again next year.”
“My son’s preschool experience drastically changed with COVID-19, but his teacher remained kind, patient, and understanding. She’s done a fantastic job of creating a fun and educational environment for the students to learn. Teachers and school staff have had it rough during this pandemic and I know that a lot of items bought for the classroom are paid for with their own money. I told her to use the money on anything she wanted! She was so grateful. Thank you for providing this gift so that we could expand the nice list!”
“I have memories of having to use a laundromat—it wasn’t always a lot of fun, and it could be expensive. I decided to give my gift card to a young woman sitting on her phone waiting for her laundry. It was fun and a blessing to give. It helps a person feel more a part of the community. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in something bigger.”
“I knew of a family that needed some additional help as both the mom and dad had recently lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The family was very grateful for the gift card, and it really made my day to be able to give them a little extra money.”
“I often get the same cashier at my local Schnucks. We’d chat about her job and the stresses of working during a pandemic while she was ringing me out. To thank her for always going above and beyond, especially during such a stressful time, I gave her the gift card. She was so surprised! She started crying and said it meant so much that someone would think of her specifically when she is simply doing her job. It means a lot to me that Vantage made it possible for us to spread joy in our community at a time when joy was truly needed and appreciated.”