First United Bank of McKinney is more than a financial institution: its employees inspire each other and community members to extend kindness to those around them.

The bank has locations across Texas and Oklahoma, and its McKinney locations are at 1700 Redbud Blvd. Ste. 130 and 6401 S. Custer Road, Ste. 100. On Friday, Feb. 16 all First United Bank locations will participate in United Acts of Kindness Day.

“It's a day where we encourage our community and partners to get involved in doing some type of act of kindness,” said Vice President Denise Steller.

When First United Bank staff members were planning for the new Dallas Uptown location, they wanted to do something more impactful for the community than a typical grand opening celebration.

“Seeing that Random Acts of Kindness Day was so close, someone brilliant in that room came up with the idea of United Acts of Kindness,” said Mariann Lawson, director of Spend Life Wisely Integration.

Lawson said the goal for the first year was 10,000 acts of kindness. Bank staff and community members more than doubled that goal. Last year the organization reached 300,000 acts of kindness. Now the company-wide initiative is in its fourth year.

In past years, First United Bank staff have partnered with local coffee shops to buy coffee for the first 100 people in line, passed out dog-treats at a dog park and ridden with police cars to pass out gift cards instead of speeding tickets. Bank staff have also volunteered at food pantries, homeless shelters and other community outreach programs.

However, these random acts of kindness don’t have to cost money and are specific to each community’s needs, Lawson said.

“It can be as simple as making sure someone's greeting every single person that walks into your place of business or taking a youth choral group and singing to a retirement village,” Lawson said. “It can be things that aren't going to cost an individual, group or a company anything.”

Steller said McKinney residents and business owners participated in a variety of different ways.

“We had great community partners like the Love Life Foundation,” Steller said. “Maylee Thomas and her team participated in going around town and handing out cookies to staff and friends in the community. Goddard School participated by having their kiddos write 320 thank you cards for the advocates of CASA of Collin County.”

Marketing Representative Penny Ives said the company-wide goal for this year is 350,000 acts of kindness.

“The impact of those acts [of kindness] is an immeasurable thing,” Ives said. “It goes far beyond those who receive acts of kindness that day. I think it strengthens the bonds we have in our communities, it uplifts spirits, it supports those who are in need– it's something we see ripples from.”

The goal this year for the two McKinney locations combined is 3,000 acts of kindness.

“Think what it would be like if everyone in the community knew it was United Acts of Kindness Day and acted on it together,” Lawson said. “[Imagine] the change that would happen in that community.”

Residents who are interested in participating in this year’s United Acts of Kindness Day can sign up and log their acts of kindness at First United Bank’s website.

“You never know the kind of day someone's having and the inspiration that one small thing can do to change that day for them.” Lawson said.

The above story was produced by Multi-platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.