Smile Politely

Get ready for Spring with free tomatoes from First Federal Bank

Money is a business and, as strange as that sounds, it’s inevitable that we need to use banks for loans, debit cards, and other services. Choosing a bank is often a task that we don’t really think about until we absolutely have to and then we’re usually caught up in the shiny numbers of interest rates and other bonuses.

In C-U, though, we’re afforded the opportunity to bank locally. We can meet and talk to the people that handle our business and we’re able to develop personal relationships with those that help us manage our finances. Banking doesn’t have to be impersonal and it’s really cool when local banks realize that.

On Monday, May 4th, First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana is hosting their annual Tomato Plant Giveaway. The giveaway has been going on for over three decades and there’s no strings attached to get tomatoes. You literally can walk in to their locations during lobby hours and pick up two tomato plants.

It seems strange at first to think that a local bank is giving away tomatoes. But the fact of the matter is that this is a great opportunity for First Federal to connect with the community. It’s an event that customers, non-customers, and the staff at First Federal looks forward to every year.

“It’s a great way for people to get people into our doors to meet us, really,” said Ata Durukan, Senior Vice President. “It’s great to see families bring their kids and come in and pick out their plants and really have that connection.”

The connection between customers and employees at First Federal has even seen the fruits of the tomato plants return to where they were first given away.

“There are people who plant these big gardens and come back and bring us tomatoes from the plants that we gave away,” said Elizabeth Reed, Assistant Vice President. “We actually benefit in that neat way too.”

The event is so big that the bank actually fields questions about the giveaway months in advance.

“We definitely get people asking us about it well before the Spring,” Reed said. “It brings people back year after year and helps us maintain our connection with our customers and the community. It’s just really fun.”

Connecting with the community is huge for First Federal and something so simple as giving away tomatoes is such a great way to make that connection. It puts a face to the name on the business card of the person who’s helping you manage a very important aspect of life — money. In this case, investment goes both ways. You can invest in First Federal, and they invest in the people in the community. Of course, investing in some tomato plants along the way isn’t such a bad deal either.

“At the end of the day, it’s about building relationships,” Durukan said. “It’s about feeling comfortable with that person that’s sitting across from you if and when you do make that decision to choose a bank.”

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