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Residential Department: Helping Hands: Mike Ballantyne and Kate Whittaker, Family First Federal Credit Union: October 2008


Helping Hands: Mike Ballantyne and Kate Whittaker, Family First Federal Credit Union

Each month, Helping Hands profiles a mortgage professional or group that has volunteered to lend a hand to others in need

Name Mike Ballantyne, home-loan manager, and Kate Whittaker, assistant to the president for marketing and public relations, Family First Federal Credit Union1008Helphandsres

Project Warm the Soles

Site Utah County, Utah

How Each year, Family First Federal Credit Union joins 30 other credit unions in donating shoes to underprivileged Utah children each holiday season through the Utah League of Credit Unions’ (ULCU) Warm the Soles program.

At the beginning of each school year, Family First works with local schools to create a list of all the shoes needed in each school -- down to childrens’ names and shoe sizes. Mervyns department store fills the order, providing the shoes at a discount. Credit-union employees then wrap the shoes and distribute them to the children.

There’s more: Ballantyne directs an annual golf tournament fundraiser, which netted roughly $5,000 for Warm the Soles this past June. In addition, Whittaker developed the Skip a Payment program, which allows credit-union members to defer a payment for 30 days in return for a $10 donation. The credit union also accepts independent donations and sells discount tickets to a local water park to raise more funds.

Why Family First started participating 12 years ago, when the ULCU first sponsored the program as a collective fundraiser, Whittaker says.

And she notes that shoes are a basic need that often gets overlooked.

“With the harsh winters that we have out here, it’s important that you have a good shoe on your foot,” Ballantyne says.

Impact Each of Family First’s seven branches is responsible for two schools. This year, the credit union will help students from 13 schools with a large number of low-income students.

In the past few years, the credit union’s donation amount has increased from 50 pairs of shoes to more than 900 pairs annually. Family First raises about $20,000 annually for the program, Whittaker says.

In all, more than 5,000 pairs of shoes were donated from credit unions across the state as part of Warm the Soles in 2007, ULCU President Scott Simpson says.

Try it Contact ULCU at (800) 662-8684 or via


Jennifer Garrett was an editor at Scotsman Guide. For questions on this article, call (800) 297-6061 or e-mail

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