10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs Announced

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Mark Metzler and Jennifer Welch have been named co-chairs for this year’s “10 Days of Giving.”

The “10 Days of Giving” runs from December 1-10, with Merchants Bank employees helping the community collect food to benefit the food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services and the Southeastern Minnesota Rural Education & Resource Center in St. Charles.

“We hope the community will respond again to the great need,” Welch said. “We are amazed each year by how much people give to those who need our help.”

Last year, the “10 Days of Giving” set a record by collecting more than 280,000 pounds of food, putting the 25-year total at 2,377,227 pounds. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in, although the reality shows that monetary donations often have a greater impact.

“Every year we are amazed at the generosity of the people in our area,” Metzler said.

In Winona in 2013 Winona Volunteer Services had 906 households using the food shelf each month, with another 93 households per month use the emergency food shelf. In total, an average of just over 37,255 pounds of food was distributed each month in 2013.

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as schools and businesses around the area. For questions, please call Metzler at 494-0524 or Welch at 457-1108. The “10 Days of Giving” will officially kick off with a press conference at 10 a.m., December 1 at Merchants Bank in downtown Winona.

Why Every Business Should Offer Gift Cards

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For the past seven years, gift cards have been the number one most wanted holiday wish list item, according to the National Retail Foundation. The popularity of gift cards has steadily increased throughout the last several years and will culminate in an estimated $100 billion dollars loaded on to gift cards in 2014*.
 
Still not sure if gift cards are right for your business? Here are some incredible statistics:
  • 80.6% of U.S. consumer plan to buy gift cards this year*
  • 64% of consumers spend more than the value of their gift card*
  • 59% visited a store more frequently after receiving a gift card*
  • 41% of consumers visited a store they would not have otherwise gone to because they received a gift card*
Offering gift cards is not only what your customers want, but it’s easy with Merchants Bank! Through our partnership with Valutec, you may begin offering personalized gift cards at your business in as little as 10 days. Simply speak to our Credit Card department by calling (507) 457-1160 or (800)-944-6285 to get started.
 
*All statistics from firstdata.com.

Help to Make the “10 Days of Giving” a Success

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From December 1-10, the “10 Days of Giving” food drive and other events will be held at a number of Merchants Bank locations, including Winona, St. Charles, Onalaska, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls and Red Wing.

The “10 Days of Giving” started in Winona and is now entering its 26th year. To date 2,377,227 pounds of food have been collected through monetary donations and the donations of non-perishable food items to help make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry. Last year, a record of more than 280,000 pounds of food was collected for Winona Volunteer Services, where the need is still great:

  • In 2013, 23,140 individuals were served at the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services, and another 2,461 individuals were served with emergency food.
  • An average of 906 households were served each month.
  • An average of 93 households used the Emergency Food Shelf services each month in 2013. 
  • An average of 37,255 pounds of food was given out through food shelf programs monthly.

Opportunities to Give

Winona – You can drop off money or food at Merchants Bank in Winona, Goodview or Lakeside between December 1-10. You can mail a donation to Merchants Bank, 102 East Third Street, Winona, MN 55987, attn: “10 Days of Giving.” You can make a donation online by going directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name. You can also bring donations to the Holiday Train held at 4 p.m., December 9, Amtrak Station.

St. Charles – St. Charles is holding its “10 Days of Giving” December 1-10 to benefit the Southeastern Minnesota Resource Center. Please bring cash or food donations to Merchants Bank in St. Charles.

Onalaska – Onalaska employees will again be hosting the La Crosse Rotary Lights Event December 2 at Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI. Please bring cash or food donations that night to the event. 

Cottage Grove – Cottage Grove will be holding its “10 Days of Giving” between December 1-10 to benefit the Friends in Need Food Shelf. You can bring cash donations or toiletry items to Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove. You can also bring donations to the Holiday Train held at 5:45 p.m., December 10, south of the Sieben Bridge, in front of the Youth Service Bureau.

Hastings – Hastings will be holding its “10 Days of Giving” between December 1-10 to benefit Hastings Family Service. Bring cash or food donations to Merchants Bank in Hastings. You can also donate at the Holiday Train stop at 8:30 p.m., December 9, at Canadian Pacific Depot, 500 E. Second Street.

Red Wing – Merchants Bank in Red Wing will be hosting a Change Collection, where they will collect the change you donate and then donate that money to benefit local people in need. It’s a great way to empty your pockets and change dishes to help others.

Cannon Falls – Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls will also be hosting a Change Collection during the holiday season at the Bank to benefit local people in need.

Spring Grove – Merchants Bank in Spring Grove will celebrate the “10 Days of Giving” by giving area residents an opportunity to purchase a bag of groceries supplied by Red’s IGA for people in need. Stop in the Bank for more details.

Caledonia – Merchants Bank in Caledonia will celebrate the “10 Days of Giving” by giving area residents the opportunity to donate cash or food in the Bank lobby. Stop in the Bank for more details.

Thank You
We know this is a busy time of year and many organizations have a need. We hope that you will consider the “10 Days of Giving.” Thank you for your consideration.

DIY Ways to Prep Your House for Winter

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As fall morphs into winter and temperatures increasingly drop, you may notice cooler weather inside your home as well. One reason: Things like cracks in window panes, poorly insulated water heaters and clogged air filters can mean your home is not acquiring its maximum energy efficiency.

You could hire a contractor or other worker to fix a hole in your window letting cold air in, or affix insulation to your attic walls — but that can be a hassle, breaking your budget and butting into your schedule. The good news is there are easy projects you can do yourself around your home to prepare for winter — that will save you time and energy, won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and you can do it on your own time, whenever you please.

Here are some common problems that occurs in homes when winter arrives, and how you can fix them — all by yourself.

1. Seal holes and gaps in walls and windows

Gaps and cracks in your foundation and walls can cause chilly air, and sometimes even rodents, to sneak inside your home.

“It doesn’t take much to get rid of that outdoor draft that comes in,” says Jan Cregier, owner of Interior Expressions by Jan in Bartlett, Ill., and a member of the national board of the Interior Design Society (IDS). All you need to fill the holes are some foam and caulk, which can be found at nearly every local hardware store. Use an adhesive foam around window and door gaps and expanding foam for sealing cracks and pipes. Also try a paintable caulk, which comes off easily if you’re mistake prone (and it will last for years to come).

 2. Add insulation

Insulation’s job? To keep warm air inside and keep cold air out.

“It’s amazing how even a small draught can make a room a lot colder, so if you can cut that bit of air out it immediately makes a difference,” says Claire Potter, an interior designer. Use rolls of foam insulation, which are inexpensive yet still get the job done. Additionally, mineral wool, glass fiber and recycled paper products work just as well to insulate your home. When installing insulation, remember to wear protective face ware such as a mask or goggles and protective clothing.

 3. Give doors and windows an upgrade

The most energy efficient windows are double- and triple-pane. At your local store, look for “low-emissivity” (low-E) window glass that’s been treated with an invisible metallic coating, which saves energy and reflects heat.

“It’s kind of like putting sunglasses on your window,” says Anna Marie Mavrakis, president of Mavrakis Construction and Cottage Draperies & Interiors in Canton, Ohio, and president of IDS. An even easier option is covering the inside of your windowpanes with Frost King, a removable polyurethane film. All you need is a hair dryer to shrink and pull the plastic tight to avoid wrinkling.

4. Fill cracks in flooring

As much as 10 percent of heat can be lost through floors if they’re not properly insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF). The easiest fix is placing a decorative rug on the floor or installing carpet, but if you’re set on your hardwoods, some filler will do to heal the cracks.

“Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so you should use a filler that can tolerate movement,” the NEF recommends. Note: A silicone-based filler is a good example of one that can tolerate movement.

 5. Pay attention to air filters

A dirty or clogged air filter means that central air will have to work overtime to heat your home — and that can be costly. It’s important to change your filters every one to three months, but especially when it gets cooler outside. A great choice of filter is a pleated one, which may capture more dirt. You can do this yourself in a matter of minutes, and filter replacements can be picked up at your local hardware store.

All it takes are a few quick fixes and your home will be warm, cozy, and best of all, energy efficient come the arrival of Old Man Winter.

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Use Your Merchants Debit or Credit Card to Swipe Out Hunger

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By swiping your Merchants Bank debit or credit card you can help maximize the amount of money Merchants Bank gives this year to local food shelves.

What is Swipe Out Hunger?
Swipe Out Hunger is a Merchants Bank initiative to support local food shelves in our communities. Food shelves are nominated by our branches and receive a donation based on the number of votes cast through our Facebook page. The total possible donation will increase by 5 cents each time our customers swipe their Merchants Bank debit or credit cards between November 28 and December 10, to a maximum of $10,000.

This year Merchants goal is to:

  • Give $5,000 to the top vote getting food shelf.
  • Give a percentage of another $5,000 to all other nominated shelves based on their percentage of votes.

In order to achieve both goals, we need to reach 200,000 swipes (purchases made with a Merchants Bank debit or credit card) by our customers between November 28 and December 10.

How can you help?
Between November 28-December 10:

  • Use your debit or credit card to increase the total amount of money Merchants donates.
  • Like the Merchants Bank Facebook page and cast your vote for your favorite local food shelf. You may vote up to three times per day.

Which food shelves are participating?
This year’s nominated food shelves include:

Apple Valley and Rosemount – The Open Door
Caledonia and Spring Grove – SEMCAC Houston County Food Shelf
Cannon Falls – Cannon Falls Food Shelf
Cottage Grove – Friends in Need Food Shelf
Hampton – Randolph Community Food Shelf
Hastings – Hastings Family Services
La Crescent – La Crescent Area Food Shelf
Lakeville – 360 Communities
Lanesboro – SEMCAC in Preston
Onalaska – The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse
Red Wing – Red Wing Area Food Shelf
Rushford – SEMCAC in Rushford
St. Charles – Southeast Minnesota Rural Education & Resource Center
Winona – Winona Volunteer Services

Additional details regarding Swipe Out Hunger can be found at our website.

Al Gathje Joins Merchants Bank as a Business Banker

AlGathjeAl Gathje has joined Merchants Bank in Rushford as a Business and Ag Banker. He will help people in the Rushford and Lanesboro area with business and agriculture loans.

“We are excited to have Al on our team at Merchants,” said Ken Graner, President of Merchants Bank in Rushford and Lanesboro. “He lives here, he works here, and he will be an exceptional fit serving the needs of the people in our area.”

Gathje, who lives just outside of Lanesboro, has been working in sales throughout the area for the past 17 years. He has an agriculture related degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. A Stewartville native, he started working on area farms when he was just 13 and has a deep interest in the ag industry.

“I am customer oriented and customer driven. I was attracted to Merchants because of its customer service reputation,” Gathje said. “I look forward to building long-term relationships where together we will be able to see real signs of success as our relationship grows.”

Click here to learn more about business banking at Merchants.