NCCU surprises customers at grocery stores Thursday

Christmas is a holiday of celebration, but it can also be a time of financial stress as well, with more money flowing outwards than at any other point in the year. When that spending cuts into necessities like food, it can be tough for underprivileged people to feel merry.

Northeast Community Credit Union, a non-profit organization based near Elizabethton High School, has partnered with many different non-profit organizations over the years, but Thursday they went right to the people, surprising shoppers at Food City and other grocery stores around Elizabethton and paying for part of their groceries.

Teresa Arnold, president and CEO of the credit union, said this was a surprise event: no one outside the organization knew about it until the day of.

“Being present at the local grocery stores, helping people at the point of purchase, this is our way of helping people,” Arnold said.

The credit union visited a variety of stores Thursday, including Food City, Ingles, Save-a-Lot and Roan Mountain Supermarket, randomly offering to pay around $25 of their final total at the check-out counter.

Arnold said projects like these are part of the organization’s overall focus on serving the community. The credit union has partnered with many different organizations, including TLC Community Center’s Bundles of Love, the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter and many others.

“We get as much blessing as the people we help do,” she said.

This is not the first time NCCU has surprised shoppers for a project like this, but the face of the operation has changed with each iteration. This year, the credit union is hosting the event independently.

As for how the employees decide who to extend the offer to, Arnold said they rely on faith.

“When we go to these stores, we are praying for direction, and it works,” she said. “The stories we hear from people, we know this is who we needed to help.”

Arnold said they never once felt people were taking advantage of their generosity, saying people who did not really need the assistance often paid the donation forward to the person behind them.

She said the organization’s mission can be seen in the many ways they get involved with the community over its history.

“There is nothing more important than making a difference,” Arnold said. “These projects allow us to tangibly make a difference.”

Northeast Community Credit Union also participates in the school systems as well, promoting financial literacy through education in topics like identity protection, how credit works and healthy spending habits.

“We see when we can make a difference, and we might be able to help others avoid issues in the future,” Arnold said.

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