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At a time when the news is filled with the ugly side of corporations, I thought I’d share a story about a series of selfless acts involving a well-known brand.

It all began about two weeks ago when MasterCard generously donated a $100 gift card to each team competing in the Kansas City Regional FIRST Robotics competition. The donation was intended to help the teams purchase parts and equipment for their robots.

Later that day, one of the teams learned their trailer had been stolen from the arena. After word of the theft spread through the audience, 20 competing teams donated their gift cards to help replace the trailer and some parents added cash donations. The Kansas City Star quoted the team’s advisor, Kathy Shirk, who said, “There were lots of tears in the stands. We know we are in a generous community. And we know that gracious professionalism is a tenet of FIRST Robotics. But to have it played out that way — it was like getting a gift you were not expecting.”

When they learned about the good sportsmanship demonstrated by the robot teams, the people from MasterCard were inspired to add one more act of generosity to the story. After making sure the trailer was fully paid for, the company gave each team another $100 cash card to spend on parts. A company spokesman said MasterCard’s employees attending the event were “impressed by the kindness and graciousness shown by the FIRST Robotics teams and wanted to extend their gratitude.”

I was one of hundreds of people who heard this story today at the FIRST Robotics competition in Virginia, which shows how a message about a few acts of generosity can spread across communities, rewarding the brand that’s involved.

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