Merchants Bank’s Leadership Class Completes Service Project to Benefit Hospitalized Children and Ronald McDonald House

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16 leadership class students along with Training Director, Kristine Valk; Chief Human Resource Officer, Bed Ede and Merchants Bank Equipment Finance President, Rick Barry packed 244 Cheer-Up Boxes.

Merchants Bank staff members partnered with Cheeriodicals to deliver 244 Cheer-Up Boxes to patients at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center and families at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, MN on January 14. The boxes were assembled and delivered as part of a service project for Merchants Bank’s I Believe Leadership Series class.

“Servant leadership is a key theme of the I Believe Leadership Series, which was created to help grow and develop leaders at all levels of the Merchants organization. Each class selects a service project and this year’s class selected Cheeriodicals to give back to families in need in the Rochester area,” said Kristine Valk, Training Director and Leadership Series creator.

Leadership class participants raised $18,460.00 to purchase supplies for the 244 Cheer-Up Boxes and partnered with Cheeriodicals to coordinate box assembly and delivery, with the majority of the funds donated by Merchants Bank staff and board members. The Cheer-Up Boxes are made up of age-appropriate magazines, activity books, puzzles, craft projects and games for children to enjoy during their stay at the hospital or Ronald McDonald House. An additional $3,100.00 was donated directly to the Ronald McDonald House.

The I Believe Leadership Series program is a yearlong, homegrown leadership development curriculum for Merchants Bank employees. The program focuses on servant leadership to align with the company focus on making a positive impact in the communities Merchants Bank serves. This year’s class is made up of 16 employees from across the organization’s locations and includes staff from both customer-facing and support departments. As part of the annual curriculum, the class chooses a service initiative. This year the class selected Cheeriodicals.

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Lucas Stangl, Ellen Morehouse, Maralee Berg and Mollie Brink pack Cheer-Up Boxes on January 14.

“Everyone in the leadership class felt privileged to be able to make the Cheer-Up Boxes and spread some joy. The experience of hand-delivering them to patients and families and seeing their smiles was something I won’t forget,” said Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager and Leadership Program Project Co-Chair.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 19 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) also owns the First National Bank of Northfield, with two banking offices in Northfield and a loan production office in Bloomington, Minn. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875. Member FDIC.

Merchants Bank’s 10 Days of Giving Food Drive Kicks Off 31st Year

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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.

Jennifer Welch, Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs

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Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg have again been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 2019 10 Days of Giving food drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort, which benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS), will be celebrating its 31st year. To date, more than 3.5 million pounds of food have been collected.

“It is a privilege for Merchants Bank to once again coordinate this effort on behalf of Winona Volunteer Services.  We are thankful for the generosity of the Winona community over the last 30 years in supporting this annual campaign,”said Regional President Andrew Guzzo.

Last year’s campaign featured a variety of events in the Winona community, including fundraising days at local restaurants, the Holiday Lighted Parade, the Holiday Concert for the Hungry and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. The campaign raised 254,075 pounds of food for WVS. It was the campaign’s second-highest total in its 30-year history.

“It is a very real need that our friends and neighbors in our community have for the support that WVS provides. It is an honor to be a co-chair for this beneficial campaign and we have an incredible team and community that makes this event a success,” Welch said. Welch is a Treasury Management Specialist as well as the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator. She is serving her sixth year as co-chair.

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.

“I am thrilled to be back again as a co-chair for 10 Days of Giving,” Stenberg said, a Mortgage Lender and in her second year serving as co-chair. “It’s wonderful to see community members come out to support WVS and their mission to help our neighbors in their times of need.”

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 Dawn Stenberg at (507) 457-1109 or Jennifer Welch at (507) 457-1108. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and 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 3,000,000 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 http://www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving.

Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs

 

Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg Named 10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs

Jennifer Welch and Dawn Stenberg have been named co-chairs for Merchants Bank’s 30th 10 Days of Giving food drive, which runs December 1-10. The effort benefits food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services (WVS), which is celebrating its 45th year. To date, more than 3,000,000 pounds of food have been collected.

“Merchants is proud to coordinate this food drive on behalf of Winona Volunteer Services. We are honored to have led these efforts for 29 years and are looking forward to making our 30th anniversary the most successful year yet,” said Andrew Guzzo, Regional President.

Last year’s campaign partnered with many events around the community, including fundraising days at local restaurants and a variety of entertainment events such as the Holiday Lighted Parade, the Holiday Concert for the Hungry and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. The campaign raised 207,898 pounds of food for WVS.

“10 Days of Giving brings our generous community together to support a common good. It is an honor to be a co-chair for this worthwhile event and I am so grateful for the incredible team that really makes this campaign happen,” said Welch, a Cash Management expert and the Bank’s Events and Adventures Coordinator, who is serving her fifth year as co-chair.

WVS serves many people in the Winona area. 3,168 unduplicated individuals were served at the food shelf in 2017 and the Emergency Food services helped 1,504 people. Proceeds from 10 Days of Giving also helps WVS run programs such as the Backpack Program – which helped 388 elementary students have healthy snacks during the school year. In 2017 the food shelf distributed 538,081 pounds of food.

“I am truly honored to be a co-chair for this year’s 10 Days of Giving, especially as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the drive,” said Stenberg, a Mortgage Lender, who is serving as co-chair for the first time. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to band together to support our neighbors that need the assistance of WVS.”

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 Stenberg at 457-1109. Monetary donations can be made out to 10 Days of Giving and 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: http://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 3,253,300 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.

Merchants Bank Money Ball in Rushford is Back for 6 More Games in 2017-2018

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball will be coming back for a fourth year in 2017-2018 with three boys’and three girls’ basketball games, according to Kari Johnson of Merchants Bank in Rushford.

Last year students received $1,180 in Money Ball payouts and the Rushford-Peterson Booster Club also received a matching payout of $1,180. That brings the total payout to $4,840 over the first three years of Merchants Bank’s Money Ball, with students and the booster club each receiving $2,420.

“The crowd really gets into pulling for the students, and it’s great that the booster club can benefit.” Johnson said. “It’s really a win for everyone.”

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:

  • 12/7 vs. Spring Grove
  • 1/23 vs. St. Charles
  • 2/19 vs. La Crescent

Girls’ Games:

  • 12/5 vs. Caledonia
  • 1/2   vs. Lanesboro
  • 1/25 vs. Winona Cotter

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rushford, Lanesboro, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, 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. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. All banks are FDIC members. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

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

22nd Annual Christmas Wonderland Parade of Lights is December 9

Merchants Bank in Rushford is proud to present the 22nd Annual Christmas Wonderland Parade of Lights at 7 p.m., December 9.

Merchants Bank is inviting individuals and businesses to be in the parade. If interested, all you need to do is to call (507) 864-7744.

It’s a great night for family fun for area residents. It begins with the Parade of Lights, and is followed by visits with Santa, cookies, hot chocolate and cider at the Rushford Fire Hall.

Monetary donations are encouraged to the SEMCAC food shelf. Donations can be dropped off at the Rushford Fire Hall the night of the parade, or mailed to SEMCAC, P.O. Box 549, Rushford, MN 55971.

Merchants Bank’s Money Ball in Apple Valley is Back for its Fifth Year with 12 Games in 2017-2018

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball is back for its fifth year, with Apple Valley students having the opportunity to participate in the halftime event 12 times during the Apple Valley boys’varsity basketball season, according to Brian Wester, who coordinates Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Last year, Apple Valley School District students won $2,670, which Merchants matched and gave the Apple Valley Basketball Club another check for $2,670. To date, Merchants has distributed more than $15,000 to the students and the booster club.

“It’s always fun for the students and for the fans,” Wester said. “Plus, we’re happy the booster club can benefit from our efforts.”

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 $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.

The full schedule for the year is as follows:

  • Dec. 5   Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • Dec. 7  Minnehaha Academy – ESPN game
  • Dec. 15   Saint Thomas Academy
  • Jan. 9   Lakeville North
  • Jan. 23  Lakeville South
  • Jan. 26  Farmington
  • Jan. 30 Eagan
  • Feb. 5  Burnsville
  • Feb. 9  Shakopee
  • Feb. 16  Rosemount
  • Feb. 20  Prior Lake
  • March 2  Eastview

Merchants Bank Twin Cities locations include Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. In total there are 21 Merchants Bank community banking locations in Southeastern Minnesota and West-Central Wisconsin, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton.  Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

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

Our Community Banking Commitment

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A few weeks ago, Merchants Bank was recognized by the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce at its annual Business Celebration Luncheon as the Business of the Year for 2017. Eligibility for this distinction was based on a comprehensive assessment of outstanding achievement in all five of these categories:

  • Economic Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Business Achievement
  • Community Engagement

While this specific recognition was isolated to Merchants’ contributions to the vitality of the Greater Winona area, the documented achievement for the categories identified above as part of the nomination process was based on the collective team effort that is contributed to by every one of my teammates in each of our markets throughout the entire region.

At Merchants, we do what we do not for the purpose of accolades and recognition, but simply to contribute to the economic well-being of our communities and the financial success of our clients. That said, we sincerely appreciate this recognition by the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. Most gratifying was the fact that quantifiable achievements in each of the five categories of the nomination was representative of business as usual for the Merchants organization during the past year, not the result of nonrecurring incidents of extraordinary achievement.

In accepting the award at the recognition banquet in May, I articulated that at Merchants we have a fundamental philosophy as it relates to our commitment to community banking: Simply, we know that when our clients and communities thrive and prosper, we, too, will do well. That approach has served us well for more than 140 years, and it’s what drives the commitments we make to providing active community leadership.

It’s an appropriate time of the year to share with you the importance we place on active community involvement and engaged leadership in each of our markets. With the arrival of summer, it becomes festival season for this entire region. That means you won’t have to look real hard to see visible signs of the extraordinary involvement in community activities that all of us at Merchants take great pride in demonstrating.

Community leadership is a critical differentiating component of the Merchants Brand. The members of our employee team are truly humbled by the opportunity we have to serve the needs of our clients and communities. Again, when our clients and communities prosper, we know we, too, will do well. And in the case of the recent Chamber award, I would add that when one wins, we all win! Thank you for your continued trust and confidence. It’s your loyalty that allows us to continue to do great work in our communities!

Meet the Winners of Merchants Bank’s Money Ball in Cannon Falls

Jenny Holz from Merchants Bank pictured with winners Avery Rustad (left) and Ashlyn Sjoquist (right).

During the Cannon Falls and Kasson-Mantorville Girl’s basketball game Friday, January 20, two students claimed prizes for making shots during Merchants Bank’s Money Ball, according to Jenny Holz, who is coordinating Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Avery Rustad, a 4th grader, made a lay-up and free throw and earned $15. Ashlyn Sjoquist, an 8th grader, made a free throw and a 3-pointer to earn $35.

“It was a lot of fun, and we were happy that Avery and Ashlyn were such good shots,” Holz said. “I hope we have a student make the half-court shot next time.”

To be eligible, students sign up before halftime of the varsity game. Two contestants are then chosen randomly, one from 1st-5th grade and another from 6th-12th grade. Each contestant has a minute to make shots. The 1st-5th grader wins $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for made free throw, and then if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $25 for a made 3-pointer. If a 3-pointer isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game. The 6th-12th grader wins $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer, and if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $100 for a half-court shot. If the half-courter isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game.

The next chance for students to take part in Money Ball in Cannon Falls is the Boy’s game Feb. 3 against Kenyon-Wanamingo. There will also be a chance for students to take part in the Girl’s game Feb. 10 against Goodhue.

Money Ball is at Cannon Falls High School for 4 Games in 2016-2017

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball will be making its debut in Cannon Falls for four games during the 2016-2017 basketball season, according to Jenny Holz, who is coordinating Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

To be eligible, students sign up before halftime of the varsity game that night. Two contestants are then chosen randomly, one from 1st-5th grade and another from 6th-12th grade. Each contestant has a minute to make shots.

The 1st -5th grader wins $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for made free throw, and then if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $25 for a made 3-pointer. If a 3-pointer isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game. The 6th-12th grader wins $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer, and if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $100 for a half-court shot. If the half-courter isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game.

Money Ball will take place during high school home games:

Boys’ Games:

  • Dec. 30         New Life Academy
  • Feb. 3            Kenyon-Wanamingo

Girls’ Games:

  • Jan. 20          Kasson-Mantorville
  • Feb. 10          Goodhue

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