East Butler Bank of the Valley

Mike Eldridge, principal of East Butler Junior/Senior High School, receives a check April 12 from Bank of the Valley's Nate Parde in the school's gym. The school was receiving funds for their participation in the bank's School Card Pride program.

Bank of the Valley has donated money to seven area school districts as part of the company’s School Pride Card Program, including those in this neck of the woods.

The program allows customers at Bank of the Valley who are affiliated with a local school to obtain a Visa Check Card with that school’s logo. When one uses the card, a donation is made to their school for usage however they please.

“It varies across the board,” said Bruno native Dee Hanson, marketing director for the Bank of the Valley based out of Columbus. “We have no stipulations or requirements on where that money goes. When we hand the check over to (the) schools, it is theirs to use.”

Bank of the Valley donated more than $25,000 to the seven school districts, which were David City Public Schools, Aquinas Catholic School in David City, East Butler Public Schools, Columbus Public Schools (CPS), Scotus Central Catholic in Columbus, Lakeview Community Schools and Humphrey St. Francis.

Hanson said she sees this program as a way to give back to community schools while bolstering pride for those schools within their communities.

“We thought it would be a really unique and cool opportunity to give back in a unique way to those schools that support those students that are in the communities that we serve,” Hanson said. “It’s not just your standard sponsorship donation. This is actually tied to people being proud of the school that they either go to or came from and showing that by getting the card and turning that into a way to make money for that school.”

East Butler officials haven't confirmed exactly what they want to use the money on; however, they are leaning toward using the funds on prizes for the school’s quarterly academic pep rallies. The showcase of school pride provides the school with the opportunity to reward students for outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement.

“We recognize students for extracurricular participation; whether or not they have all A’s or all A’s and B’s; and perfect attendance,” said Mike Eldridge, secondary principal for East Butler Public Schools. “I also award something that’s called the Triple Award where they have to meet all three of those: participated in an extracurricular, achieved all A’s or all A’s and B’s and perfect attendance. We usually have about 20 kids who achieve the Triple Award.”

Eldridge said that this was the first time that Bank of the Valley had given East Butler a check for their participation in the program. With that in mind, he wanted the presentation to be a special one.

“This was actually the first check that we had received (and) they wanted to arrange a time for them to present it in front of the student body,” Eldridge said. “We were finally able to find a time (which was April 12 in the school’s gym).”

David City and Aquinas were contacted for this story, but representatives from the schools were not available before The Banner-Press' print deadline on Tuesday.

According to Hanson, Bank of the Valley has donated more than $38,000 since the program began in the fall of 2015 and has given out more than 1,100 cards. Hanson has also seen other banks, such as Pinnacle Bank, attempt to jump on board by starting a pride card program of their own shortly after Bank of the Valley did theirs.

“The best compliment you can get is, ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery,’” Hanson said. “It was nice to see that they could recognize a good idea when they saw one.”

Hanson said she would like to see the program become a model for other community banks to do something similar. In many ways, this particular program is similar to First National Bank’s sponsorship program with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I like the idea of seeing more local and community banks utilizing it to benefit their local communities and having that more personal connection and personal tie-in,” Hanson said.

Zach Roth is a reporter for the Banner-Press. Reach him via email at zach.roth@lee.net.

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