Bankers to go casual to aid crisis loan fund

February 08, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Don't be alarmed if you walk into your bank Friday and see some employees in sweat shirts and jeans.

They'll also be wearing blue ribbons, signifying their contribution to a short-term crisis loan fund for county residents.

Bank employees around the county who volunteer to contribute $5 or more to the loan fund will get the privilege of dressing down for the day.

The unprecedented fund drive brings together 800 employees from nearly all the banks and savings and loan companies that do business in Carroll County -- 54 offices in all.

Carroll County Bank Vice President James C. Wise came up with the idea to raise money and awareness for a short-term crisis loan fund that has had some trouble getting off the ground.

The fund needs another $4,000 to finish matching an initial donation and begin operating. It will provide grants of as much as $250 to working, low-income people who find themselves faced with a crisis, such as not having a security deposit or needing to fix a refrigerator or a car so they can get to work.

When Mr. Wise read a news story about the fund being short, numbers started rolling around in his head: The banking community had about 800 employees. If each contributed $5, that would get the loan fund operating.

"I just did not like hearing that a crisis loan fund was short $4,000, when it seemed so easy to raise the money," Mr. Wise said. "As a collective body, we can make this happen. As an individual, we can't."

The Community Services Council, a coalition of human service agencies, started raising money for the fund in 1990. A committee got a $10,000 grant from an anonymous local foundation on the condition that it be matched with community donations.

The local agencies managed to raise $6,000 in cash and in-kind services, such as certificates for car repairs, but were still short $4,000.

The money has been held in trust with county government and is collecting interest but not being used for the loans, said Peggie Roland, president of the Community Services Council.

For the employees, participation is strictly voluntary, Mr. Wise said. But he said it seems many are willing to donate.

He and Ms. Roland said they are optimistic about raising at least $3,000 from bank employees, if not the whole $4,000. If they come up short, they said, they hope the attention surrounding the event will prompt other businesses or individuals to donate money.

The loan fund would be administered by Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., which is at 10 Distillery Drive. The non-profit agency provides several services for low-income people.

The crisis loan fund was intended for people who don't qualify for public assistance, but still need help with large, unexpected bills.

Loans will come with a pay-back schedule.

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