Employees of Sterling Bank, a subsidiary of Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STSA), contributed 53,187 volunteer hours in 2012, assisting nearly 2,000 charitable organizations. “At Sterling, we strive to be a bridge to the possible for our communities. I am proud of our employees for taking the initiative to get out, volunteer and better their neighborhoods,” said Ezra Eckhardt, president and chief operating officer of Sterling Bank. Of the total hours volunteered, approximately 13,000 were part of Sterling’s employee volunteer time-off program that was implemented in 2012. Through the program, Sterling provides employees with 12 paid hours per year to volunteer during work hours with a nonprofit, school or public service organization of their choice. “The year 2012 was a record year for Sterling employee volunteerism. Our employees’ generosity mirrors Sterling’s commitment to improve lives and strengthen the communities we serve, a commitment that will only grow moving forward,” continued Eckhardt. More than 6,400 volunteer hours qualified as Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) hours. The CRA provides a framework for financial, government and community organizations to jointly promote fair banking services across all communities. Qualifying CRA organizations focus on affordable housing, financial education and/or financial services for low- to moderate-income populations. Other qualifying activities include downtown revitalization efforts and small-business support. “Sterling’s employee volunteer program is just one of the valuable benefits in working for the bank,” said Suzanne Craddock, a customer service representative at Sterling’s Peterkort branch in Portland, Ore. “Not only do I have the opportunity to help people achieve their financial goals while I’m at work, I’m also able to spend time in my neighborhood school providing the children and teachers with much needed daytime support.” As determined by the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics rate, the estimated dollar value of the total volunteer hours translates to just over $1.1 million. However, the impact on the communities is greater than the sum of the volunteer hours and financial support that Sterling Bank and its employees bring to its neighborhoods.