Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Creative Ways We’ve Paid It Forward

When Bell Bank launched the Pay It Forward program 10 years ago, we never imagined all the creative ways our employees would come up with to make community members’ lives a little brighter.

“You don’t really know the need that surrounds you, because you get trapped in your own little bubble of your own everyday life. But the need is right next to you.” — Jordan Young, virtual bank service supervisor

They found needs we didn’t know existed, and they gave – not only their Pay It Forward funds, but also of themselves to make a difference in the world around them.

Here are just a few of those stories:

30 Acts to Celebrate 30 Years

Bell Bank employee Angie Heiden next to YWCA signIn addition to the $1,000 Bell gives full-time employees to pay it forward to people and organizations in need, we also give employees $500 and a day off to spend with their friends and family.

On her 30th birthday, Angie Heiden, a personal banker in Fargo, used her Friends and Family day off and money to complete 30 random acts of kindness.

Her kind deeds included purchasing diapers for a new mom in Target, giving roses to the residents at Sheyenne Crossings retirement facility, and buying a book her son had loved when he was younger, then giving it to a family in Barnes & Noble.

“It was by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever been part of,” Angie remarks. “I could not have thought of a better way to celebrate my big day.”

Carrying on a Christmas Tradition

Kids at food pantryIn 2013, Jodi Johnson, an executive coordinator in Fargo, used her Pay It Forward funds to start a family tradition of Christmas kindness. That year and every year since, Jodi and her family have done something nice for someone each day in December leading up to Christmas.

Their “random acts of Christmas kindness” take a lot of planning, but have also become their favorite holiday tradition. These shared kindnesses have included things like leaving gift baskets at strangers’ houses, handing out gift cards at coffee shops and bringing winter gear donations to elementary schools.

“I think it really opened my kids’ eyes about needs in the community and filling people’s buckets,” Jodi notes. “They have randomly come up with ideas that we have added to the list as they hear about things at school or see someone in need.”

School Supplies Surprise

School supplies surpriseAfter some of our employees watched a news story in which Becky Walen, a senior wealth management advisor at Bell, talked about the rising cost of raising children, they decided to help by pooling their Pay It Forward funds to buy school supplies for students throughout Fargo-Moorhead.

They passed out 260 Bell Bank gift cards worth $25 each along with a note that stated, “At Bell Bank, we believe in giving back to the communities we serve. Take these supplies, turn them into something extraordinary, and Pay It Forward!”

In addition to leaving gift cards for children living at the YWCA in Fargo and donating cards directly to students at Hawthorne and Madison elementary schools, they also hid cards in backpacks, shoe boxes and other school supplies in local stores. And they gave cards directly to people whom they saw shopping for school clothes and supplies.

“You don’t really know the need that surrounds you, because you get trapped in your own little bubble of your own everyday life,” says Jordan Young, virtual bank service supervisor in Fargo. “But the need is right next to you.”

Learn more about how Bell’s Pay It Forward program began.

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