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Telling our holiday story year round

By Bill Loving

Like so many of my community banker brethren, I simply love the holidays. It’s a time for family, friends and all-around good cheer. At Pendleton Community Bank, we deck the halls and everywhere else in between. We love to show our holiday spirit and show our customers and communities that we’re right there with them—celebrating the season’s special magic and meaning.

We all know that the holidays are a particular time for giving, and as community bankers, giving is something we do best throughout the year. We do it when we make a character loan to that small business that might otherwise not have been able to get startup capital to open up down on Main Street. We do it when we lend to the young family that’s buying their first home. We do it when we help our customers plan for retirement, whether that’s tomorrow or years down the road.

The point is, giving is something that all of us community bankers do in various ways on a daily basis. Yes, we’re running a business, but there’s much more to it than that. We want to ensure that our banks make a difference, a real difference in the lives of our customers and the health of our communities.

And charitable work is no exception. As proven by ICBA’s National Community Bank Service Awards, which are announced each year at ICBA’s annual convention, ICBA Community Banking Live, community banks top the list in giving back to their communities in a philanthropic way. Community banks want to help their communities—not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s a good business practice.

All community bankers know that a healthy local economy is essential to a healthy community bank. By making our communities stronger, we thrive and our customers thrive—it’s all a win-win. It’s all part of that symbiotic relationship between the community bank and its community. And the best part is that we get to positively affect the lives of local citizens and organizations along the way. Now that’s something to feel good about all year.

ICBA is here to help you spread that message. While ICBA’s Go Local initiative is a great way to highlight your community bank’s local efforts throughout the whole year, ICBA is once again making its Go Local for the Holidays campaign available to community banks. The campaign’s free materials feature easily customizable press releases and op-eds to help spread the Go Local message throughout this time of year—showing your support for local small business, along with your community banking pride. Find materials at www.icba.org/golocal.

So go ahead and spread your holiday cheer as you always do, and be proud that even though you may amp up those goodwill efforts over the holidays, it’s something you and your staff do throughout the year—without being asked. This is truly the community bank culture, and that’s something to truly be thankful for.

Bill Loving is president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va.

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