Bank extends gift to the community, one bill at a time

Captions: Heidi Johnson pays Meghan Yost for a cup of coffee and a cup of hot cocoa at Bean and Vine with a $5 bill given to her by First National Bank Employees. Owner Stacie Suedkamp makes the beverages at the back counter.

Carolyn Johnson, left and Leah Dailey hand out $5 to Margie Powers.

Employees of the Flandreau branch of First National Bank in Sioux Falls put a little zip in the day recently by picking up the tab for coffee and other treats at Bean and Vine.

Through a bank program called Kindness First, employees handed out $600 in $5 increments to customers who stopped at the shop Nov. 7. The effort is one of several that bank employees vote on to pour the company’s money back into the community.

“It’s a way we can get out in the community, too,” said Carla Harris, branch manager.

The Flandreau branch employees have organized other Kindness First activities in the past, including buying donuts for customers at the local bakery, said Brenda Doyle, who came up with the coffee idea and got it approved by the bank. Each employee has a specific amount of money they put toward the kindness projects, and they work together to decide what projects they want to do. “We pool our money,” she said.

Customer Margie Powers stopped in for coffee and bought extra cups to go. “What a nice treat,” she said. “I am going to take a couple to friends at work.”

Heidi Johnson bought coffee for herself and a cup of hot cocoa for her husband, who is a mail carrier. “We’ll pay it forward,” she said.

Bank employees handed the $5 bills to customers who came through the door and those who chose the drive-up window for service at the coffee shop.

Bean and Vine owner Stacie Suedkamp said the Kindness First program was a nice thing to do at her business. The bank had called in advance so she prepared extra treats for customers who could use the money not only on coffee drinks but on baked goods and other menu items, such as pizza and sandwiches.

“It really means a lot for us as a community,” she said in between greeting customers, both familiar and new. “I’ve seen people that I’ve never seen before. Word spreads in a small town.”

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