Citizens Bank of West Virginia in Elkins boosts morale by having employees deliver surprise gifts of thousands of dollars each year to residents of its hardscrabble town (pop. 7,000).

The Random Acts of Kindness program also raises the bank's profile in the area.

"My favorite event was two years ago, when we showed up unannounced at the local Catholic Charities office on the week of Thanksgiving," said Thomas Derbyshire, the bank's president and chief executive.

There was a line of people a block long waiting for help at the overburdened charity's food bank, when bank employees showed up to hand over a $1,000 check to help pay for food assistance for the holiday, he said.

Another time, Derbyshire and other bank employees who served in the military showed up at a local senior center on Veterans Day and handed out $50 bills to elderly vets. It was a way of saying, "Thanks for your service," Derbyshire said, "so that they could take their spouses out to a nice dinner."

Citizens Bank, which is new to the Best Banks to Work For ranking this year, began its series of random acts of kindness in 2014. A bank committee — including Derbyshire, Executive Vice President Nathaniel Bonnell, Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer Kathy Leombruno and two bank staff members — comes up with the event ideas.

Citizens Bank also likes to (pleasantly) surprise its own employees. Each month, Leombruno said, features some unexpected fun event like a tailgate grill in the bank parking lot or an ice dunk of executives like Derbyshire himself. Employees also might get surprise gift cards to local stores when they do something noteworthy.

"Our motto here is to do three things: Work hard, take pride, and have a little fun while you're working," Derbyshire said. "It kind of takes the pressure off people."

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