“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Has a Good Beginning

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Through Tuesday, Merchants Bank’s 28th annual “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive was at 97,036 pounds of food collected.

The number of pounds of food collected included $47,976 in cash and 1,084 pounds of food. Included in the amount was a $10,000 anonymous donation. Two pounds of food are counted for each dollar collected. Through the same time last year, 117,381 pounds of food had been collected.

“We are always truly amazed at the generosity of the people in our community, especially as it relates to helping others,”said Jennifer Welch of Merchants Bank, one of this year’s co-chairs.

Last year, more than 231,233 pounds of food was collected, making the 27-year total 2,839,415 pounds of food. With totals to date for this year, the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive is at 2,936,451 pounds of food collected.

“We are looking forward to the remainder of the drive,” Welch said. “We expect there will be great turnouts for the Holiday Train on Thursday and at the Santa House on Saturday and Sunday.”

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is scheduled to arrive at 4 p.m. at the Winona Amtrak Station. The Santa House is open at 25038 County Road 9 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Suggested admission to the Santa House is $5 per person or nonperishable food items. Pictures with Santa will be available for $3 a photo.

Merchants will be collecting nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving. 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, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: winonavs.org. Indicate ” 10 Days of Giving”after entering your name.

Richard Barry Named President at Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

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Rick Barry, President of Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

Equipment financing leader Richard Barry has been named President at Merchants Bank Equipment Finance (MBEF), according to Rodney R. Nelson, CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI).

Barry started November 14, allowing him time to work alongside current MBEF President Brad Brolsma through the end of the year and learn first-hand about MBEF’s growing customer base. Brolsma is retiring December 31, after 14 years with MBEF.

“Rick has tremendous experience and connections in the equipment financing industry. We are excited he has joined our team and will be leading Merchants Bank Equipment Finance,”Nelson said. “We are very pleased that he will have some time to work with Brad to learn about our key customer relationships that we value so greatly.”

Barry brings extensive industry experience, including nearly 20 years working in equipment finance with GE, TCF, and, most recently, U.S. Bank.

“MBEF has an excellent and growing reputation in our industry for providing smart and strategic answers to its customers,”Barry said. “I’m looking forward to working with the team Brad has put together and continue the growth with both new and existing customers through providing the best in service and solutions.”

MBEF provides equipment financing options to businesses located throughout the Upper Midwest and also partners with other finance companies in equipment finance transactions outside of its marketing footprint. Founded in 1988, MBEF works to meet the needs of its customers across many industries, including construction, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing and food and agriculture.

MBEF is located in Edina. In addition to MBEF, MFGI owns Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders.

Money Ball is Back for its Fourth Year in Apple Valley

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball is back for its fourth year, with Apple Valley students having the opportunity to participate in the halftime event 11 times during the Apple Valley boys’ varsity basketball season, according to Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Apple Valley School District students can sign up before each game and then two students are chosen at random to participate. Each student gets one minute to make a lay-up, free throw and then a half-court shot. The student wins a $10 Chipotle gift card for a made lay-up, a $25 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card for a made free throw and $100 or more for a made half-court shot. If the half-court shot isn’t made, the money rolls over and is added to the next home game.

“It’s exciting for the students and a benefit for the basketball booster club,”said Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank. “Through our first three years we’ve given nearly $5,000 to students and matched that amount for the booster club.”

The full schedule for the year is as follows:

  • Dec 13 — Cretin Durham Hall
  • Dec 15 — Owatonna
  • Jan 6 — Shakopee
  • Jan 10 — Rosemount
  • Jan 13 — Prior Lake
  • Jan 26 — Eastview
  • Feb 7 — Lakeville North
  • Feb 17 — Lakeville South
  • Feb 21 — Farmington
  • Feb 28 — Eagan
  • March 3 — Burnsville

No customer relationship is necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members are not eligible to enter or win.

Merchants Bank Money Ball is Back for 6 Games in 2016-2017

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball will be coming back for a third year in 2016-2017, according to Kari Johnson of Merchants Bank in Rushford.

“We’re hoping students have a great time this year, just as they did the past two years,” said Johnson, who is coordinating Money Ball. “It’s a fun event for the crowd, for us and for the participants. Plus the R-P booster club benefits.”

Last year, students received a total of $920. Merchants Bank in Rushford matched that donation with another $920 to the Rushford-Peterson Booster Club, for a total payout of $1,840 during Money Ball. In the first year, a total of $640 was given to the participants and booster club, making the total payout $2,480 to date.

Student halftime participants are broken into two groups – 5th grade and younger and 6th grade and older. Participants have to register and are drawn randomly. Three participants, 5th grade and under, have 30 seconds to make shots, earning $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for a free throw, and $25 for a 3-pointer. Another three participants, 6th grade and over, also have 30 seconds, earning $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer and $100 for a half-court shot.

This year, the home games are:

Boys’ Games:

  • Dec.  8             Caledonia
  • Dec. 22            La Crescent
  • Jan.  26           Winona Cotter

Girls’ Games:

  • Jan. 24            St. Charles
  • Feb. 3              Caledonia
  • Feb. 17            La Crescent

Merchants Bank Offers $5 Decorative Plates to Support “Fill an Empty Plate, Feed a Hungry Child” effort and the United Way’s “Packing for the Weekend” Program

The Merchants Bank locations in Cannon Falls and Red Wing are both supporting the “Fill an Empty Plate, Feed a Hungry Child”effort that supports the “Packing for the Weekend”program of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce counties.

Through December 24 the locations are asking customers and area citizens to help feed area children and their families by buying a $5 decorative plate The plates will be placed on a tree in the Cannon Falls lobby and will be displayed in the Red Wing lobby.

While the Red Wing office has already made a contribution to the United Way, the Cannon Falls office will match the first $500 raised through donations.

The employees of the Cannon Falls and Red Wing offices both support the United Way through individual monetary contributions and through the volunteer efforts of its employees. Red Wing Vice President Patti Robertson and Cannon Falls Vice President Kim O’Reilly serve on the United Way Board of Directors.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton, La Crescent, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Welch, Anderson Named “10 Days of Giving” Co-Chairs

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Jennifer Welch and Chad Anderson have been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 2016 “10 Days of Giving”Food Drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort, which benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services, will be celebrating its 28th year. To date, more than 2.8 million pounds of food have been collected.

“The participation we see from businesses, schools, individuals and others is inspiring,”said Welch, the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator, who is serving her third year as co-chair. “We see many people give who have benefitted from the effort in the past. They know what it’s like to wonder if they are going to have enough to eat.”

Last year, the “10 Days of Giving”collected 231,233 pounds of food. It was the third highest total ever collected. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in. The percentage of monetary donations keeps increasing each year.

“It is wonderful to see the community come together for a common cause,”said Anderson, a Commercial Banker, who is serving his first year as co-chair. “That includes the members of our team here at Merchants Bank. It’s truly a company effort to help make sure no one in Winona County goes hungry this winter.”

Through the end of 2015, 860 households used the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services each month and 73 households used the food shelf on an emergency basis each month. The average amount of food distributed each month was 35,162 pounds.

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. For questions, please call Welch at 457-1108 or Anderson at 457-1196. The “10 Days of Giving”will officially kick off with a press conference at 9 a.m., December 1 at Merchants Bank in downtown Winona. 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, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: www.winonavs.org. Indicate “10 Days of Giving”after entering your name.

Joe Nelson Appointed to Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors

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Joe Nelson (right) with Tim Murphy

Joe Nelson has been appointed to the Merchants Bank Advisory Board of Directors for the Merchants Bank locations in Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rushford and Lanesboro, according to Board Chairman Timothy Murphy.

“Joe is well-known and well-respected for his commitment to the Ag industry,” Murphy said. “We think his addition on our Advisory Board will provide our Banks with greater insight into how to best provide financial solutions for those we serve in our area.”

Nelson and his wife Barb own and operate the Lanesboro Sales Commission and the Decorah Sales Commission.

“We see a great number of people in the area, and they share with us what’s important to them. I think having that knowledge will be a help to the Board,” Nelson said.

Nelson grew up on a family farm north of Canton, MN, and attended Mabel-Canton High School and the University of Minnesota. The Nelsons live north of Mabel, MN, where they raise registered Simmental and Angus cattle and have a diversified crop operation, in addition to their work in Lanesboro and Decorah.

“We’re proud to provide a fair and competitive market for livestock buyers and producers in a four-state area,”Nelson said.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.