Merchants Bank kicked off the 31st annual 10 Days of Giving food drive on Monday morning. The drive runs December 1-10 and benefits the food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS). Through the first 30 years, more than 3.5 million pounds of food have been collected.
Co-chairs Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg will be leading 10 Days efforts this year. Joining them at the kick-off press conference were Merchants Bank Winona and Southern Regions President Andrew Guzzo, WVS Executive Director Sandra Burke, Winona Mayor Mark Peterson and other participants. The drive was kicked off this year with a $10,000 donation from Steve Craney, in memory of his late wife, Gina Craney.
“We honored to coordinate this campaign and are so grateful to the Winona community for their generosity. It is so inspiring to see the involvement from schools and local businesses, as well as all of our community members,” said Guzzo.
Last year, the 10 Days of Giving campaign collected 254,075 pounds of food. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in. One area that keeps improving is the amount of monetary donations that are brought in to support the drive.
“We value and appreciate any donation, but as a food shelf, our monetary dollars go farther at the grocery store than an individual’s,” said Burke. “What that means is, Winona Volunteer Services can purchase $50.00 worth of food with just $15.00.”
Burke said there continues to be a need in the area. Through the end of 2018, an average number of 751 households were registered for the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services and more than 3,000 individuals were served. Another 1,132 people were helped at the Emergency food shelf. Last year WVS distributed 499,272 pounds of food. Additionally, 393 elementary students received healthy weekend snacks during the 2018-19 school year.
Joining Andrew Guzzo, Sandra Burke and Mark Peterson giving the ceremonial “First Gift of Food” were Christian Kline, a first-grade student at Washington-Kosciusko Elementary School and Payton Kammerer, a third-grade student at St. Stanislaus Elementary School.
As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area (view a full list at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving). For questions, please call Jennifer Welch at (507) 457-1108 or Dawn Stenberg at (507) 457-1109. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, visit the Winona Volunteer Services website. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.
The 10 Days of Giving food drive is an annual community collaboration between Merchants Bank and Winona Volunteer Services to make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry each winter. Since 1989, the drive has collected more than 3.5 million pounds of food and helped thousands of people in Winona County. In addition to the Winona drive, other Merchants Bank locations partner with their respective local food shelf in a similar effort. To learn more about the 10 Days of Giving in your area, visit www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.