Written by Greg Evans for the Winona Daily News
For each of the past 25 years, the first 10 days of December have been treated as special at Merchants Bank and throughout the Winona community. It has become an extraordinary tradition for the entire community to embrace a spirit of collaboration and giving that far exceeds the expectations established when the idea for the “10 Days of Giving” food drive was hatched in 1989.
As the recently-hired marketing coordinator for Merchants Bank at the time, I became aware of the inability for Winona Volunteer Services to keep and adequate supply of non-perishable items on its emergency food shelves to meet the needs of people who were going hungry throughout Winona County. I was stunned. Growing up in Winona, I never saw a visible sign of hunger in our community. It shouldn’t be that way in a community as richly blessed as Winona.
Fundamental to Merchants Bank is the responsibility to step up as a community leader when there is a need to be met. I knew of an emergency food drive initiative coordinated by WGN-TV/Radio for the city of Chicago. I wondered aloud to the bank’s executive management team led by Pete Roehl if it would be possible for the bank to make something like that happen in Winona. Clearly, it was more than simply possible.
The partnership between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services that began modestly in 1989 has now grown to include virtually every viable institution throughout the community. “10 Days of Giving” has become its own brand, standing on its own because it symbolizes all that is truly special about my hometown. When there is a need, Winonans roll up their sleeves and help other Winonans.
As “10 Days of Giving” has grown beyond anybody’s expectations, you have helped feed hundreds of needy people throughout Winona County. And, unfortunately, the need for the services provided by Winona Volunteer Services continues to grow. As the community celebrates this, the 25th year of the “10 Days of Giving” food drive, please take pride in knowing your participation has provided emergency relief for hundreds of Winona Volunteer Services clients who remain virtually invisible to most of us. More importantly, give generously again this year at any Merchants Bank location, participating businesses or Winona Volunteer Services so that nobody in Winona County will go hungry this winter.
Greg Evans is Regional President of Merchants Bank — Cannon Falls, Hampton and Red Wing