Some 50 military families and friends at two California credit unions recently had the opportunity to connect with loved ones for the holiday season thanks to Operation Best Wishes, a program sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council, and the assistance from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ newly launched C-Sun Studios.
This year, the national tour of the Operation Best Wishes—a national program offered as a free service by America's credit unions—covered eight states. The California leg of the tour included stops at Grossmont Schools Federal Credit Union in El Cajon and Travis Air Force Base in Vacaville. Travis Credit Union hosted the Travis AFB event.
Operation Best Wishes sets up a mobile video-recording studio—this year provided by C-Sun Studios—at predominantly military-affiliated credit unions The military and their families are invited to use the studio to record and make personalized video greeting cards e-mailed to deployed loved ones or other family members who will not be with them during the holidays. It differs from Skype and other Web-based communications that the video greeting cards are produced by using a green backdrop, enabling families to be superimposed over holiday animations.
This is the first time Grossmont Schools Federal Credit Union has hosted an Operation Best Wishes event, while it’s the fourth time Travis Credit Union has hosted the event at Travis Air Force Base. Although Grossmont Schools FCU is not a military sponsored credit union, it serves an educational field of membership in one of the country's largest military towns, San Diego, said President and CEO Steve Devan.
"With the cooperation of our local school districts and Congressman Duncan Hunter's office, we offered this wonderful opportunity to any San Diego family with military personnel serving overseas," Devan added. "It was so heart-warming to visit throughout the day with military families that took advantage of this event, and the ability to make this holiday season more enjoyable for our men and women serving our country abroad. It meant so much to the families here in San Diego, and as an organization, GSFCU was proud to offer this to anyone—member-owners, potential member-owners, and those completely outside of our field of membership."
“Operation Best Wishes is an annual campaign held during the holiday season to help military families stay connected in a very memorable way,” said Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “This is a great program not only for our deployed military members, but for anyone who is geographically separated from their loved ones who are currently or who have previously served. We are proud to be able to support our military community in this way and happy to be able to bring Operation Best Wishes to Travis Credit Union here in Northern California.”
“The biggest thing for me is seeing family members who don’t have dads and moms around during the holidays,” said Leagues Vice President of Digital Media Services Joe Keller, who oversees C-Sun Studios. “For C-Sun Studios to bring them together for the holidays is the least we can do since their parents are protecting us overseas."
Keller said several families anticipate Operation Best Wishes coming every year and look forward to it. But this year he saw a lot more military units and squadrons coming in to send messages to their colleagues deployed overseas, in addition to family and friends.
Since its launch in 2004, Operation Best Wishes has connected thousands of military family members and friends with deployed loved ones and family members. Under the sponsorship of the Defense Credit Union Council and host credit unions, this year’s tour will visit eight military bases throughout the U.S. November 27 through December 20.
C-Sun Studios, launched by the Leagues in October 2012, provides high-quality, low-cost media services to organizations. It is managed by Joe Keller, who brings 20 years of experience in the credit union industry, including managing marketing and webcast productions at Western Bridge Corporate FCU (formerly WesCorp).