10 Days of Giving at 260,211 Pounds for 2020, The Second Highest Year, Bringing All-Time Total to Over 4 Million Pounds

The final total for the 10 Days of Giving food drive through the end of the day on Wednesday, December 16 was at 260,211 pounds of food. This is the second highest total since 2013, when over 280,000 pounds were collected. The 10 Days of Giving supports the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services.

“On behalf of everyone at Merchants, I want to extend a very warm thank you to all of those who donated and our community partners for supporting 10 Days of Giving campaign. Thanks to your generosity, this year we collected our second highest total, an incredible accomplishment given all of the circumstances this year,” said Merchants Bank Winona and Southern Regions President Andrew Guzzo.

“Seeing the community come together, safely, of course, to show this much support for friends and neighbors really warms your heart,” said Chair Jennifer Welch. “We are so glad that new events like our Kick Off Red Trailer Lunch and Pack the Bus to Drive Out Hunger, which both took place outside in our Downtown location parking lot, were so well received.”

The year total breaks down to $123,566 in cash and 13,079 pounds of food. For the purposes of the total, two pounds of food are counted for each dollar. Last year’s total was 236,495 pounds. The total for 32 years now stands at 4,008,957 pounds. 

“Once again we are so moved by our community’s generosity, especially during a difficult year. We are so appreciative of everyone who supported this worthy cause. Despite being in and out of school and work, together we were all able to make a difference. We are fortunate to have such a warm, caring community,” said Chair Jennifer Welch.

Merchants collected monetary and food donations at its locations via the drive-up facility as well as at participating organizations around the area (view a full list).

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 4 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. Learn more about the 10 Days of Giving food drive in your area.

Meet Larry Bodin: Market President for Onalaska and La Crescent

Larry Bodin, Market President

Larry has been in banking for 31 years, and nearly 20 of those he has spent in the La Crosse area. With extensive experience as both a Commercial Banker and Market President, Larry knows what’s important for the local economy: community-minded leadership.

Q: What drew you to the La Crosse area? How long have you lived there?

My wife Elaine, along with our two sons, Justin and Trenton, moved to the La Crosse area in 2003. Previously I worked in the Madison, WI area, but La Crosse County was in my market territory. It made sense professionally to move up a little farther North and there were interesting opportunities in this region.

Q: What drew you to Merchants Bank?

The reason I chose Merchants Bank had everything to do with the local leadership team, including Steve Christiansen (who is now retired) and Shawn Sackman. At my previous position, I competed against them in banking as well as sat alongside of them on various Boards. I knew if I were to move away from a large bank atmosphere, the community-oriented Merchants Bank would be my employer of choice.

Q: What are you looking forward to in your new role as Market President?

I am excited to get to know more of my coworkers across the region (even if it’s just over the phone or a video call) – we spend a lot of time with each other and it’s always nice to know your teammates.

I firmly believe it is important to continue developing leadership skills within our local team, and of course that includes me. When we work with customers our biggest role is to represent our organization in a positive and professional manner. 

Merchants Bank is also fortunate to have a very talented local Advisory Board of Directors.  I am extremely excited to have the privilege of learning from their successful leadership in our communities.

Q: What do you think is important for all businesses to know?

Whether in your professional or personal life – it is so important to build meaningful relationships. Not all banks can fulfill that “Trusted Advisor” role, but when there is mutual respect and understanding between you and your banker, you know you have someone who truly cares about what’s best for your business and will be a partner in helping you make smart financial decisions.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Being a man of faith, I like the advice given in James 1:19 which applies to everyone – “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” 

In most situations, but especially in a leadership role – this is very good advice.

Q: What organizations are you part of?

Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors for Chileda, Inc. and the VARC Foundation. Previously I’ve held board positions with the Dahl School of Business at Viterbo University, the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, Junior Achievement, and Holmen Area Rotary.

I enjoy volunteering because of course if feels good to serve your community, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet people.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

When I have free time, it’s about relaxing and having fun. My wife and I enjoy walking, golfing, fishing and flying as a private pilot, often taking trips to explore locations around the region and Midwest. We enjoy watching professional and college sports, especially football.

I am also (for the past 25 years) a WIAA, MSHSL, and NCAA licensed Men’s and Women’s Basketball Official. Between Thanksgiving and March, I officiate over 75 contests as well as weekend tournaments. This is a rewarding professional hobby and I honored to have officiated many local Wisconsin and Minnesota high school athletes that have gone on to college and into the NBA.

Larry Bodin to Lead Merchants Bank Locations in Onalaska and La Crescent

Larry Bodin, Market President

Larry Bodin has been promoted to Market President for Merchants Bank locations in Onalaska and La Crescent, according to Andrew Guzzo, Regional President.

Bodin’s primary responsibilities will be to provide leadership for Merchants Bank’s Onalaska, WI and La Crescent, MN locations; along with meaningful community engagement in the Coulee region. He will also continue serve as a Commercial Banker and trusted financial advisor for business clients. Bodin succeeds Steve Christiansen, who retired as Market President for Merchants on December 1.

“With nearly 20 years of community leadership in the market, Larry is a natural fit to oversee our Onalaska and La Crescent locations,” said Guzzo. “His familiarity with the local economy and dedication to putting the customer first will help us continue to grow Merchants into the future.”

Bodin has been with Merchants since January 2020 and has been a banker in the La Crosse area since 2003, with experience in both business banking and bank market leadership. He is also a veteran of the United States Navy.

“As a community bank, Merchants plays a vital role in the economic health and welfare of our communities. This has never been more important than it is today. I am extremely proud to be a part of the Merchants team and look forward to serving alongside them as we continue to build strong communities together,” said Bodin.

Bodin and his wife, Elaine, have lived in the Holmen area since 2003 and are active community volunteers. For the past 25 years, Bodin has been a licensed WIAA, MSHSL and NCAA basketball official. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for Chileda, Inc., and the VARC Foundation. Outside of work, he enjoys fishing, golfing, and flying as a private pilot, often taking trips to explore locations around the region and Midwest.

For decades Merchants Bank has been a community partner in both Onalaska and La Crescent, helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals. With a focus on mortgage and business financing, Merchants has been fortunate to grow as each community has grown. In addition to traditional banking services, the Bank also offers a full line of business loan, lease and floor plan finance solutions, digital banking, security apps, treasury management tools and wealth management services.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 23 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.5 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Merchants Bank’s 10 Days of Giving Food Drive Kicks Off 32nd Year

Andrew Guzzo, Merchants Bank Regional President presents the ceremonial first donation on behalf of WA Group to Sandra Burke, Winona Volunteer Services Executive Director with Mayor Mark Peterson.

Merchants Bank kicked off the 32nd annual 10 Days of Giving food drive on Tuesday morning. The drive runs December 1-10 and benefits the food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS). Through the first 31 years, more than 3.7 million pounds of food have been collected. Chair Jennifer Welch will be leading 10 Days efforts this year.

At the kick-off press conference were Merchants Bank Winona and Southern Regional President Andrew Guzzo, WVS Executive Director Sandra Burke, Winona Mayor Mark Peterson and other participants. The drive was kicked off with a ceremonial first donation from WA Group.

“Despite the challenges of this year we are honored to safely 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, even during these difficult times,” said Guzzo.

Last year, the 10 Days of Giving campaign collected 236,495 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, and with this year’s challenges, we ask for primarily monetary donations.

“As a food shelf, our monetary dollars go farther at the grocery story than an individual’s,” said Burke. “What that means is, Winona Volunteer Services can purchase $50.00 worth of food with just $15.00 through resources such as the region’s food bank. Having sufficient funds helps us make sure we have the variety that the community needs.”

Burke said there continues to be a need in the area. Through the end of 2019, an average of 755 households were registered for the supplemental food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services and more than 3,000 individuals were served. Another 972 people were helped at the Emergency food shelf. Last year WVS distributed 492,290 pounds of food. Additionally, 393 elementary students received healthy weekend snacks during the 2018-19 school year.

The drive has also received a $10,000 donation from Steve Craney, in memory of his late wife, Gina Craney.

For questions, please call Mary Gordon at (507) 494-0573. 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: www.winonavs.org. 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 3.7 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.