United Bank brightens kids' holidays through gift program

Date: 1/6/2011

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The holidays of several hundred local youngsters were a little brighter again this year, thanks to United Bank's annual Foster the Spirit children's gift-giving program.

Now in its 13th year in the Springfield region — and introduced this year for the first time in the Bank's new Worcester region — Foster the Spirit is a partnership with the Departments of Children and Families in Springfield, Holyoke and Worcester. Its goal is to provide holiday gifts for local youngsters who might otherwise go without.

The bank displayed a special Foster the Spirit Holiday Tree in all 22 of its full-service branches in the Springfield and Worcester regions.

Each tree was decorated with tags describing a child's gift wish. United Bank employees and customers selected one tag or more and donated the requested gifts. Cash donations were also accepted, and used to purchase gift certificates for movies, clothing, and toys.

"We were extremely pleased with this year's response, especially in light of today's economy," Dena Hall, senior vice president of marketing and community relations, said. "It's heartwarming to realize that a strong sense of community can prevail under any circumstances."

United Bank also made a $1,000 cash donation to Foster the Spirit, as part of a promotion on its new Facebook page, facebook.com/bankatunited. The bank pledged a $1 donation for every new Facebook fan who clicked the thumbs-up "Like" button on its page through Dec. 17, 2010.

Falling just a few "likes" shy of its goal, the bank rounded up the fan vote to donate the entire $1,000, Hall said.

United Bank is a federally chartered savings bank headquartered in West Springfield. Its parent corporation, United Financial Bancorp Inc., is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol UBNK.

United Bank operates 16 full-service branches and two express drive-up branches in the Springfield region of Western Massachusetts, and six full-service branches in the Worcester region of Central Massachusetts.

The bank also offers online services at bankatunited.com.