We only want to help

To help erase the "stodgy" image of its industry, the State Bank & Trust Co. of Fargo, N.D., made news last Christmas by instituting a "pay it forward" project and setting aside a half-million dollars for its 500-plus employees to donate to worthy causes. They were given six months to do so. No problem, right? How long do you think it would take you to give away that kind of money – even if the rules said you couldn't make yourself a beneficiary? As it turns out, six months hasn't been enough time.

Not that the employees haven't taken their mission seriously; they have. Some have pooled their allotments to make the donations more substantial. Others have put up a matching share using their own funds. The cash has gone to help support individuals with medical problems or physical handicaps, to church groups, to help send needy young people to college, and so on. Still, almost $150,000 is left in the kitty. "There are so many diverse needs in our community," chief operating officer Michael Solberg told reporters, and "some of the bigger ideas have taken more time" than anticipated. So the deadline has been made open-ended until "we give all the money away." It has been "so rewarding," he said, in part because other businesses in the area have taken notice, and "this is creating a culture of philanthropy, outreach, and goodwill."

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