While the Federal Reserve was on holiday, staff from area credit unions were out Monday cleaning up a park, packing food, surprising people with free coffee and doing other good deeds.

Three area credit unions were among the participants in CU Forward Day — a tradition of spending the Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day holiday giving back that’s coordinated by the Minnesota Credit Union Network.

Each participating branch decides how to spend the day or afternoon serving their community.

“The fun part is it gets to be unique to your community,” said Liz Harrison, manager of the Mankato branch of Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

Harrison and co-planner Nicole Danielson said they decided to add random acts of kindness to their schedule this year.

They started their day at a coffee shop, stepping in to pay for customers’ orders. Later they paid for students’ drinks and lunches at Minnesota State University.

“I was really surprised. It made my day,” said MSU sophomore Minahil Khan after she was treated to a cup of hot chocolate.

Other Affinity Plus staffers meanwhile handed out notes with sayings such as “one kind word can change someone’s entire day.” They also handed out blank cards and provided postage for students who stopped to write a few kind words to anyone of their choice.

The Affinity Plus team spent another part of the day playing games and reading with children at the Mankato Youth Place. They brought books and games to donate to the after-school program.

Danielson said the highlight of the day was delivering seven boxes filled with toiletries, food and other essentials for residents of the Committee Against Domestic Abuse shelter. Members of the credit union’s Mankato branch donated more items over the last few weeks than she expected, she said.

Staff from area SouthPoint Financial Credit Union branches spent the afternoon making blankets or packing backpacks, according to social media posts. Some staff made fleece blankets to give to a variety of people in need. Other staff sorted and packed food for hunger relief organizations that work with schools to send food home with children in need.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Valley Credit Union staff were at Sibley Park and the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.

They raked leaves at the park. At the children’s museum the volunteers painted foam blocks to look like rock for the quarry exhibit and helped prepare materials for gingerbread house decorating classes to be held in December.

Minnesota Valley Credit Union loan officer Lindsey Anderson said she has done several different volunteer activities on CU Forward Day over the years. This year was her favorite, the mom of two young fans of the museum said, because she got to give back to a place she often visits.

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