The emphasis is on community for Michael Busse, president of Community Bank of Downers Grove. Consequently, he relishes the holiday season as it gives him the opportunity to show appreciation to all aspects of his community.
"I take the community bank concept very seriously," Busse said. "So benefiting the customers, not-for-profits and merchants fit. It's all in the nature of a good community bank."
Community Bank of Downers Grove is currently coordinating its annual Holiday Sharing Program. Three years ago, Busse recalled contemplating what kind of gift to give his customers for the holidays.
"I realized that often we get stuff at Christmas that never gets used. We put it on a shelf and it sits, or we re-gift," he said. "I said, 'why give out more stuff? Isn't there a better way to do this?' "
That way turned out to the Holiday Sharing Program. Busse asks customers to make a $10 donation which will benefit one of five local charities. Community Bank will then match each donation. "Now the charity gets $20 rather than $10," he said. "On top of that I have worked with some of the local restaurants, bars and pubs and come up with $10 Busse Bucks."
These certificates, emblazoned with a picture of Busse's smiling face, can be used as cash at Ballydoyle Irish Pub & Restaurant, Emmett's Ale House, Another Round Bar & Grill, Gatto's Restaurant & Bar, 2Toots Train Whistle Grill, and Egg Harbor Café in Downers Grove. The participating restaurants are splitting the cost of the certificates 50/50 with Busse.
Busse said that his customers love the program because it doubles their charitable donation, while treating them at a local eatery. The local restaurants appreciate it too. "They understand that it's a way to generate business and they get the subtle aspects that when someone looks around, they see who's participating and who is affectively helping to support local charities. It's that simple," Busse said.
Last year, when all of the numbers were tallied, it was determined that the Holiday Sharing Program had generated a total of $4,000 which was distributed among five charities.
In order to help out as many organizations as possible, Busse rotates the not-for-profits receiving the proceeds from the program. This year, money will be donated to the Ray Graham Association, which provides services to people with disabilities; Almost Home Kids, which assists families of children who are dependent on technology or are medically fragile; FISH Food Pantry, which helps to feed and clothe disadvantaged residents of the community; the District 99 Education Foundation, which supplements programs and activities at the Downers Grove high schools, and the West Suburban Humane Society.
The Holiday Sharing Program has been very well-received since its inception. In addition to the growing number of customers who donate and the increased amount of contributions each year, the participating restaurants like to re-enlist.
"That says to me that it's working," said Busse. "My customers are asking for it and restaurants are doing it again."
For further information visit www.downersgrovebank.com