If you were challenged with finding ways to impact your community, what would you do? Twelve First Southern National Bank employees were given just that task.

First Southern National Bank has always stressed the importance of growing its workforce into contributing members of the communities where they live. This was no different during this year’s Emerging Leaders training program.

These twelve individuals from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were challenged to make a difference by taking $100 and finding ways to grow that into a larger sum with the end goal of impacting the community.

“Together, this group made a difference for a vast number of people including themselves,” said Lanie Gardner, of Central City, who served as one of the leaders of the program this year.


For Jon Campbell, of Central City, this project was as personal as it could get.

He took some of his inspiration for his “Make a Better Christmas Challenge” from Thomas S. Monson who said, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people…”

Jon took his $100 and managed to grow it into more than $9,000. He added $150 of his own and then he started challenging coworkers, friends, family, and community members to match or donate. In a little over a month, he reached $9,250.

The money he raised went to 8 different family resources centers in Muhlenberg County. Each resource center received $1,000 and the remaining funds went toward the purchase of gloves and toboggans.

“I chose this because growing up my family struggled during the holidays and I could always feel the stress from my parents,” Campbell said. “Then as I had my own kid, I went through some hard times as well, but someone always helped out without me asking. They knew I needed a helping hand.”

“Now that I can afford to provide for my own daughter, any extra I can give back I try to do so,” he continued.  “I am very passionate about helping families out during the holidays, so it takes some stress off the parents and they can enjoy the season.”


Elyse Stuart, of Russellville, and Krystal Gunderson, of Adairville, decided to team up for their efforts. Together, they grew their $100 to $3,800.

For many years, they’ve completed a fundraiser for the Russellville Family Resource Center and threw a Christmas party for the Kindergarten class at Stevenson Elementary.

Typically, they would give $500 annually. However, this year with the Emerging Leaders challenge, they received donations from family members, coworkers, and a matching grant from the River Foundation.

The funds were used to create a magical Christmas for the Kindergarten class. They brought in Santa and Mrs. Claus and gave away McDonald’s gift cards, books, and other gifts to 76 students. Additionally, $2,000 was donated directly to the Family Resource Center.

“Those kids’ faces when they entered the room and saw Santa was magical,” Gunderson said. “They were so appreciative and excited. Pure and simple joy. We are forever grateful to be able to bring this event annually, especially this year with our generous donations. Opportunity starts with our children and I am truly blessed to be part of an organization that believes we are a better place when we are generous to others.”

“To see the joy in all of the children’s eyes made every bit of it worth it,” Stuart said.


Jacob Carter, of Crab Orchard, chose to help his 4-year-old son understand the meaning of Christmas and giving creating a new family tradition in the process.

Jacob was able to double his $100 and together the family went shopping. His son chose the gifts that would be given to another family.

“This project gave me an opportunity to teach my children about those in less fortunate situations and to demonstrate generosity,” Jacob said. “My family and I plan to make this an annual tradition and to, hopefully, instill generosity in our children.  I choose this project because I recently realized that this was not something I was discussing in my household, and I felt compelled to change that. I choose toy donations because kids do not necessarily understand cash, but they understand the value of toys, so this gave me something tangible for them to pick out and donate.”


Isaac Hart, of Somerset, raised money for “Be the Village. Through the program, individuals are able to “adopt a family” during the Christmas season. Isaac also encouraged his family and friends to help out and grew his $100 into $1,300. With that, they were able to help with a dinner and delivered gifts for the families.

“These families are what is known as Kinship Families,” Isaac said. “These are not adoptive parents or foster parents. These may be next of kin who have taken these kids in to keep them out of foster care.”

As a branch, the Somerset team adopted a family and bought gifts for them. Isaac also raised additional funds to help with families that may not have gotten adopted.

“The biggest impact on me was how thankful these families were,” Isaac said. “Adam Brown (Somerset Community President) and I volunteered to hand out presents on Monday and the joy these families felt was truly heartwarming.”


Quinten Curry and Chris Hood, both of Bowling Green, teamed up with their Bowling Green branch team to help the Delafield Co-Op Market, which is part of Hotel, Inc. They grew their combined $200 into $1,000.

The Delafield Co-Op Market provides local residents with fresh and local groceries for a discount price. Donations make it possible for the market to provide high-quality, low-cost food items.

“We chose this because this initiative can have a direct impact on multiple families for years to come,” Chris said. “The impact it can have on a family over time is large and multiplied our donation more than we could even predict. We are proud to work with great team members that donated and support this project.”


  • Brandon Griffin, of Stanford, donated his $100 to a valued customer who was in need. From there, he was able to meet other members of the customer’s family and felt it made an impact on them all.
  • Michael Edler, of Richmond, is active in his church ministry. He reached out to the ministry and was able to grow the money to reach $400. The money was donated back to provide necessary supplies, food, and clothing for individuals through the mission at his church.
  • Brett Elleman, of Richmond, grew her $100 into $750 to aid the homeless in Madison County. She was also able to collect winter items such as blankets, socks, gloves, scarves, and hats. She filled 30 Christmas bags with supplies that had been donated.
  • Joe Johnson, of Stanford, combined forces with Dan Lewis, of the River Foundation and an Asbury University Professor. Joe grew his $100 by challenging a group of students at Asbury University. Together they raised $1,300 and donated the money to causes in five different countries.
  • Brett Wiseman, of Kings Mountain, grew his $100 to $800 by reaching out to his church pastor and congregation. With the money they raised, they were able to help 5 different families during the holiday season.

The end result of this generosity challenge was that $1,200 turned into nearly $20,000, to benefit our communities. For more information, visit fsnb.net.