Community Stories

Citizens delivers 'random acts of kindness'

NEW ULM October 1, 2021 — Citizens Bank Minnesota employees spent September carrying out several Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) in the communities they serve. Citizens donated $750 for 15 teams to spread kindness in a creative way. Many employees also contributed towards their RAKs.

The teams donated blood, delivered snacks to local hospitals, had gift card giveaways at local gas stations, grilled lunch for local law enforcement officers, delivered food for first responders, picked up trash at a park, unpacked and sorted snacks for Project Lunch Box and delivered freezer meals to families and snacks in appreciation of schools and bus drivers.

This effort was in conjunction with the Minnesota Bankers Association’s Community Impact Month. Across the state, 88 banks and over 342 branches joined forces in September to serve 243 distinct cities. Launched by the Minnesota Bankers Association, the Community Impact Month creates an opportunity for banks to highlight the many volunteer opportunities available to help build stronger local communities.

Old National employees gather to package food for local food shelf

October 1, 2021 - Last Tuesday evening, employees of Montevideo's Old National Bank gathered in their downtown building to work on a project to help provide food to local families. The bank's corporate office recently partnered with Meals from the Heart, a non-profit Minnesota-based company as a part of their initiative for Community Impact Month. 

The Community Impact Month initiative is a program that the Minnesota Bankers Association launches annually in September to provide a space and time for banks that are members of the Association to engage employees in activities such as this that give back to the community. Old National's chain of banks has been a part of Community Impact Month for a few years, and this year chose to partner with Meals from the Heart to package food for various food shelves around the state. 

The Montevideo Old National employees packaged food that would in part be contributed to Prairie Five in Montevideo. “As a community bank, it’s really part of our culture to give back, and we are thrilled to partner with a nonprofit that has helped us engage so many of our team members. We are also appreciative that Meals from the Heart gave us the opportunity to help direct the distribution of the meals so that we could benefit local neighborhoods and nonprofit organizations that we already know,” said Julie Anderson, Government and Nonprofit Relationship Banker at Old National, and Chair of the ACE Committee, which coordinates Community Impact Month activities for the bank.

The Montevideo Old National Bank employees packaged sixty-six boxes of meals, the best average of all four sites with a total of 14,442 servings packaged. The grand total was 102,564 servings between all of the four Old National Bank locations. 
Old National Bank has 31 locations around the state, and other beneficiaries of the meals packaged by Old National are: Big Lake Food Shelf, Buffalo Food Shelf, CAPI USA in Brooklyn Center, ECHO Food Shelf in Mankato, Keystone Community Services in St. Paul, Madison Food Shelf, VEAP in Bloomington, and Waconia Food Shelf.

Combat-wounded veteran honored with keys to new vehicle at the Minnesota State Fair 

Wells Fargo and Apple Autos donated a 2021 Ford Escape SE Hybrid through Military Warriors Support Foundation

ST. PAUL, MINN. – September 8, 2021 – For combat-wounded veterans, transitioning from the military back to civilian life can be a challenge. That, combined with the cost of a new vehicle, can put added burdens on our nation’s military service members and their families. To help, Wells Fargo teamed up with Apple Autos and Military Warriors Support Foundation to present a payment-free 2021 Ford Escape SE Hybrid to former U.S. Army Sergeant Michael Diehn on Tuesday, August 31, during Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair. 
“It is such an honor to receive this vehicle and be a part of this program because it will give our family so much more freedom to do different things and visit new places. Personally, I hope to be able to start my own farm with a garden and animals, participate in more veteran events, and volunteer to help my fellow veteran community. As a family, we’ll get to take more road trips to different U.S. destinations and learn how to budget and save money for the future,” shared former U.S. Army Sergeant Michael Diehn. 
The donation was made through Military Warriors Support Foundation’s Transportation4Heroes program, which awards payment-free vehicles and provides one year of family and financial mentorship to combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families. According to the Foundation, the counseling has helped families in its program pay down, on average, about $30,000 in debt.  
Michael Diehn was born and raised in Arlington, Minn. He joined the Army in 2001 and completed his basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. Sergeant Diehn also attended Airborne School, and later was assigned to Company E, 51st Infantry Regiment, serving as Long Range Surveillance in Darmstadt, Germany. In 2003, while deployed to Iraq, he sustained injuries while supporting combat operations and received a Purple Heart. He was flown back to Germany to recover from his injuries. After six months of rehabilitation, he re-enlisted in the military and got deployed back to Iraq. After six years of service, he was honorably discharged in 2007 and received many awards for his bravery, including a Combat Infantryman Badge, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Iraq Campaign Medal and more. Today, Sergeant Diehn resides in Plato, Minn. with his wife and three children and enjoys fishing, gardening, cutting wood and going on road trips. 
Wells Fargo Auto, a division of Wells Fargo Consumer Lending, started the Sponsored Vehicle Donation Program in 2015, and since then have worked with auto dealerships across the country to sponsor the donation of more than 50 payment-free vehicles and family and financial mentoring, valued at over $1.5 million, to combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families through Military Warriors Support Foundation’s Transportation4Heroes program. 
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories
About Military Warriors Support Foundation 
Military Warriors Support Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, founded by LTG Leroy Sisco (Ret), in 2007. Their mission is to provide programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for our nation’s combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star families. Their programs focus on housing and homeownership, recreational activities, transportation assistance and leadership development. Through select programs, they have awarded nearly 900 mortgage-free homes and over 100 payment-free vehicles to combat-wounded heroes, Gold Star spouses, and their families in all 50 states. In addition to the home or vehicle, the families receive family and financial mentoring. For more information, visit  

About Apple Autos
Apple Autos is a family-owned business that has served the south metro for more than two decades. Apple Autos operates Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley, Apple Ford Shakopee, Apple Chevrolet Buick in Northfield, and Apple Used Autos in Shakopee, Minnesota. The company pioneered "Best Price" selling 25 years ago, providing up-front pricing without the uncertainty and hassle of negotiations. Being a good citizen is one of Apple Autos’ key values. They give willingly to and are actively involved in the support of our communities. 

Old National Bank Foundation announces $42,000 in grants to
Minnesota-based nonprofit organizations

Minnesota (April 29, 2021) – Old National Bank Foundation, philanthropic arm of Old National Bank (NASDAQ: ONB), announced its quarterly contributions totaling $42,000 to four organizations throughout Old National’s Minnesota market, and an annual total of over $2 million footprint-wide, with some contributions being multi-year commitments.

Three times a year, the Foundation presents grants to organizations throughout its footprint that fit the following strategic initiatives: Affordable housing, education achievement, economic development, financial literacy and workforce development.

This quarter, the Foundation approved the following grants to four Minnesota-based nonprofits:
  • Hiawatha Academies, a Minneapolis-based organization, received a $10,000 grant for its Program Support for Hiawatha Through College. The program provides academic, socioemotional, and logistical/practical support for scholars and alumni from Hiawatha Academies so they will research, apply to, earn admission to, enroll in, persist in, and graduate from college.
  • Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, a Minneapolis-based organization, received a $12,000 grant for its Making Home Happen Campaign. This campaign will enable the organization to make home happen for more seniors, veterans, and low-income households.
  • Youth Farm and Market Project, a Minneapolis-based organization, received a $10,000 grant for its North Minneapolis Programming. The program engages youth ages 9-24 in experiential education, leadership and employment training, community organizing, and urban agriculture. These young people will build leadership skills while planting, growing, preparing, cooking, and distributing fresh food in their own neighborhoods.
  • Youthprise, a Minneapolis-based organization, received a $10,000 grant for its Youthprise COVID-19 Community Support. Youthprise has established delivery systems, supply networks, nonprofit relationships, and broad geographic capacity to reach low-income and BIPOC youth who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“We’re delighted to partner with these four organizations and applaud their unwavering commitment to their missions during a difficult 2020,” said Kelly Elkin, Old National Bank Foundation board member. “In their own way, they all inspire hope, which I think a lot of us can use right now.”

Since July 2018, the Foundation has donated over $600,000 in grants to Minnesota-based nonprofits.

To learn more about the Foundation, please visit

An area bank is paying it forward to health care workers with a new initiative that in turn supports local restaurants. 

Arcadian Bank, formerly known as Farmers State Bank, on Thursday delivered meal vouchers for Mayo Clinic Health System employees at the Albert Lea campus. 

See the full story here.

U.S. Bank outlines details of its $15M Rebuild and Transform fund – the first $5 million went to the Twin Cities.

August 18, 2020 - U.S. Bank announced today details of a $15 million Rebuild and Transform Fund, which will help small businesses impacted by civil unrest and support organizations working to address systemic economic and racial inequities. The U.S. Bank Foundation will make philanthropic investments in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations, with a priority on Black-led nonprofits. The initial $5 million in grants will be distributed in the Twin Cities as general operating support and will include funding to grantees to support trauma care for staff or residents in impacted areas. The Fund is part of the bank’s previously announced $116 million commitment to address social and economic inequities.  Read more

Premier Bank Collecting Donations for The Landing MN

ROCHESTER, MN - As winter approaches, donations are needed for the homeless population in Rochester. Monday, September 28, and Tuesday, September 29, Premier Banks in Rochester will be collecting donations for The Landing MN.
The Landing MN is an organization that provides clothing, housing, meals, and medical care for those facing homelessness in the Rochester area. Co-founder Dan Fifield says every bit helps, but the organization needs men's blue jeans from waist size 32 to 36.
"You generally got a pair of clothes that you wear 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Fifield. “I can't imagine going days and weeks on end wearing the same clothing and not being able to have a change of clothes.."

First National Bank of Coleraine holding school supply fundraiser for Vandyke Elementary

A new school year approaching brings much excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, for many area families it also brings financial strain. In the past, the Greenway community, including the First National Bank of Coleraine, has eased the burden of school supplies for many families by donating to Vandyke Elementary.

 “When families show up to Open House and express a need for school supplies, it is a great gift to be able to assure them we have donations to assist those in need. We not only use these supplies to start the school year but also use them to fill the need later in the year when classroom supplies get depleted. It is fun to see a child’s face light up when we can assure them they will have a backpack and supplies for the first day of school,” said Dawn Jenkins, MSSW, LICSW, Vandyke School Social Worker. Jenkins continued, “This year, some of the agencies who have helped families in the past are no longer providing backpacks to area children. Because of this, we anticipate a greater need than usual for the 2019-20 school year. We are so grateful to First National Bank of Coleraine for stepping up to help our students have a fantastic start to the new year! Items that are needed are #2 pencils, backpacks, crayons, disinfecting wipes, dry erase markers, erasers, glue, hand sanitizer, multiplication and division flash cards, notebooks, pencil boxes, pocket folders, Post-It notes, scissors, tissues, washable markers, water paints, Ziploc bags, etc. Collection dates were August 5 through September 30. Drop-off locations are at First National Bank of Coleraine at 600 Powell Ave., Coleraine and at the LaPrairie branch located at 1220 East Hwy. 169. Monetary donations are also being accepted.

Lake Elmo Bank Celebrates Community!

Lake Elmo Bank hosted its 23rd annual Community Day earlier this month. Free to the community, LEB’s picnic offered pony rides, petting zoo, bingo and live music – along with a tasty dinner of locally-grown roasted corn on the cob, grilled hot dogs and ice cream cones. The event is staffed by all bank employees.
“This event has become a staple in our Lake Elmo and surrounding community,” says Christine Clark – VP Marketing at Lake Elmo Bank. “We host this event the same time every year and people have grown to expect it.” This community event draws over 1,000 people from Lake Elmo, Stillwater, Oakdale and surrounding communities.  “Our employees enjoy this event – time to visit with customers and friends in the community outside the walls of the Bank,“  adds Clark.

Lake Elmo Bank is a community bank serving the financial needs of residents and businesses in the east metro for 108 years. Offering full-service products at all three locations – Lake Elmo, Stillwater and Oakdale, Lake Elmo Bank is committed to its mission of providing personal service.

Citizens Bank Minnesota delivers loads of snacks to 4 area organizations

Did you know approximately 13 million American children are at risk of hunger?  Because of this, Citizens Bank Minnesota chose to collect snacks for children in need in the area for their community snack backpack programs. These snack backpack programs help ensure students in need have access to healthy meals during the weekend and return to school ready to learn.

This effort was in conjunction with the Minnesota Bankers Association’s Community Impact Month.  Across the state, 94 banks and over 458 branches will join forces in September to serve their local communities. Citizens employees were able to raise $715, which employees used to shop for snacks to donate to four area organizations. Several boxes of snacks were donated by employees and community supporters as well! The organizations donated to include: United Way of Brown County Project Lunch Box, Watonwan County Backpack Program, Lafayette Charter School Food Backpack Program and Kenwood Trail Middle School Snack Pack Program in Lakeville.

Citizens will hold monthly collections throughout the school year, so be on the lookout for future collection dates in your area.

Launched by the Minnesota Bankers Association, the Community Impact Month creates an opportunity for banks to highlight the many volunteer opportunities available to help build stronger local communities. Citizens and their employees were proud to be a part of this effort and we thank everyone who donated at all of our locations! #BanksBuildMN 


 Security State Bank celebrates Community Impact Month

Security State Bank of Hibbing is once again celebrating Community Impact Month by giving back to its friends and neighbors.

On Tuesday, bank employees scrambled down the aisles of Cobb Cook Grocery in Hibbing for an annual contest called the “Grocery Grab” after which any food items “grabbed” within the time limit were donated to the Hibbing Salvation Army. It came together as a partnership between the bank and the grocery store and is one of several events scheduled throughout September to help benefit locals.

Originally organized by the Minnesota Bankers Association, the concept of Community Impact Month was designed to inspire member banks to engage with their local community through service activities. Mark Gardeski, CEO and president of SSB, told the Hibbing Daily Tribune in a phone interview Tuesday that the bank jumped on board with the idea a handful of years ago and it’s been a fulfilling, rewarding endeavor they’ve been grateful to be a part of.

“It’s a terrific thing for the community and for our employees too,” Gardeski said. “It’s about team building exercises, like the highway clean up and Buddy Backpack program. It's been a thing the bank and employees really benefit from.”

In January, the Minnesota Bankers Association recognized 35 state banks for their community involvement and SSB was among those dubbed 2019 Community Champions, thanks to their dedication to volunteer work and other area efforts. Those efforts will continue throughout this month as nearly all 22 employees at the Hibbing bank will likely volunteer in one form or another.

“The Grocery Grab went fantastic,” Gardeski said. “We brought the food to the Salvation Army today and it was around $750 dollars worth. We partnered with Cobb Cook and it was nice to work with them on that.”

Up next is a free taco bar lunch featuring Taco Johns, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, at the Security State Bank Parking lot at 710 E Howard Street. Bank staff are also offering popcorn in the lobby each Friday throughout September.

Other upcoming activities planned include participating in Adopt a Highway and the United Way of NE Minnesota’s Buddy Backpack program. Employees will also be hosting their annual Winter Gear Drive and are seeking new or gently used coats, jackets, gloves, hats and boots for both children and adults to donate to United Way. In addition, they are set to serve up free “baked goodies” from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 17, at McDonalds in Hibbing.

“Participating in this fits in with the core values here the bank,” Gardeski said, highlighting that the volunteer activities benefit their customers, employees, community and shareholders.

Source: Hibbing Daily Tribune

Star Bank thanks teachers with back-to-school luncheon

Star Bank in Maple Lake held its annual teacher luncheon on Thursday for teachers and staff who are back at school preparing for the new year. The event kicked off the Minnesota Bankers Association Community Impact Month. All Ten Star Bank offices in Minnesota are participating in this program. Star Bank in Maple Lake has also been volunteering at the State Amateur Baseball Tournament. Pictured at right are members of Star Bank who participated, Thursday. They are, from left, Julie Hudek, Heidi Wurm, Andy Wahlquist, Joni Ludwig and Justine Jude Charmoli. (Photo by Bob Zimmerman)

Source: Maple Lake Messenger

 MidCountry Bank Provides Funding to Support Veteran Social Services in South Minneapolis

In a unique partnership, MidCountry Bank joined Every Third Saturday, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), and Rebuilding Together Twin Cities (RTTC) to help make a new social services venue in South Minneapolis a reality.

After months of planning, Every Third Saturday kicked off a project in South Minneapolis that will bring much-needed social services closer to the local homeless veteran community. MidCountry Bank provided a portion of the funding necessary to prepare a new facility for the services that will be offered. Rebuilding Together is managing rehab of the property and construction of community gardens on its grounds. Joining MACV and several other social service providers, MidCountry Bank volunteers were onsite during the kickoff to provide information, offer financial counseling and answer questions related to banking that can be helpful for veterans transitioning into stable housing and work environments.

MidCountry Bank is a full-service bank headquartered in Bloomington, MN.  With 13 branch locations in Minnesota, MidCountry actively engages in its communities to provide high quality, diversified financial services and solutions for consumer and business clients. A comprehensive scope of banking, cash management, equipment leasing, mortgage insurance and investment products, tools and services make MidCountry a solid financial ally.

MidCountry Bank Provides Funding to Support Veteran Social Services in South Minneapolis

In a unique partnership, MidCountry Bank joined Every Third Saturday, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), and Rebuilding Together Twin Cities (RTTC) to help make a new social services venue in South Minneapolis a reality.

After months of planning, Every Third Saturday kicked off a project in South Minneapolis that will bring much-needed social services closer to the local homeless veteran community.  MidCountry Bank provided a portion of the funding necessary to prepare a new facility for the services that will be offered.  Rebuilding Together is managing rehab of the property and construction of community gardens on its grounds.  Joining MACV and several other social service providers, MidCountry Bank volunteers were onsite during the kickoff to provide information, offer financial counseling and answer questions related to banking that can be helpful for veterans transitioning into stable housing and work environments.

Fairfax Needs More “AED” Units

As a community we are getting older and I believe we need to have a “Automated External Defibrillator (AED) where people gather; the Community Center, our churches, Public Library and City Hall. The only ones I know of are at the school and the Fire Department’s emergency units.

September is Minnesota Banks Community Impact Month. The employees of Frandsen Bank & Trust – Fairfax will be hosting a fundraiser to raise funds to donate an AED unit to the Fairfax Fire Department to install in the Fairfax Community Center.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).     

These devices literally mean the difference between life and death. For every minute that ticks by, the survival rates for experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest decrease by 10%. In order to be prepared for these medical emergencies, having an AED on site as well as trained individuals who can use the device is critical. There is a significant investment in each AED of more than $1,500 each.

We are fortune to live and work in Fairfax, but our community is only as strong as our commitment to help each other and we believe every minute counts! Therefore, Frandsen Bank & Trust will donate a minimum of $500 along with covering all expenses for a Free Will Donation Meal on Wednesday, September 11th at the Fairfax Community Center. The Fairfax Fire & Ambulance will be available to demonstrate how to operate an AED machine. The staff of Frandsen Bank is excited to volunteer and raise funds for the Fairfax Fire Department for an AED machine in the Fairfax Community Center.

Save the date on your calendar. More information will be provided.  

Let’s join together to help save a life!

Harlan Helgren, Regional Vice President and President of Frandsen Bank & Trust, Fairfax

Bank delivers blankets to area organizations

Citizens Bank Minnesota collected blankets and fleece donations to create 107 fleece tie blankets to give to six area organizations as part of Minnesota Bankers Association’s Community Impact Week, September 17-21. Among the organizations receiving blankets was 360 Communities in Lakeville. Community Impact Week is an opportunity for banks to highlight the many volunteer opportunities available to help build stronger local communities. Citizens and its employees thank those who donated to this cause. The bank has a location in Lakeville. 

MidWestOne makes $50,000 donation to Eagle’s Healing Nest to help complete the state’s first home for women veterans

A $50,000 grant from MidWestOne Bank will help Eagle’s Healing Nest, a non-profit group supporting homeless veterans, complete the restoration of a home for women veterans – the first such facility in the state of Minnesota.

The home is one of three “cottages” on the Historic State Hospital property in Anoka that was leased to Eagle’s Healing Nest late last year in a state of deterioration. With the help of community support, the group restored Cottage No. 2 in just 56 days and began welcoming male veterans onto the property in December 2017. Renovations on Cottage No. 4 – called Lady Liberty – began in early 2018 and thanks to the MidWestOne grant, will now be completed. 

“There are currently no other homes in Minnesota that are specifically for homeless veterans who are women,” said MidWestOne Bank Vice President and Regional Retail Manager Sheryl Carlson. “We are so excited to be able to help Eagle’s Healing Nest create this safe haven for female veterans by offering housing, food and psychological support. They have served our country, and it’s only right that we now support them.”

Every year, MidWestOne awards a $50,000 grant as part of its Community Impact program. The funds are earmarked for innovative projects that would have a positive impact on a local MidWestOne community. When Carlson and her colleague, Don McGuire, learned about Eagle’s Healing Nest from State Senator Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, a key Eagle’s Healing Nest supporter and MidWestOne customer, they knew they wanted to get involved.  

“When we found out we won this year’s grant, everyone in the location just stood up and cheered,” said Carlson. “It’s such an important cause and it was very touching to see everyone rally behind our effort.”

Beyond the grant itself, many of the bank’s Coon Rapids employees have become involved in the organization. Bankers have helped staff at the Nest make connections within the community and will participate in the restoration by adopting a room and renovating it.

“The Nest is so grateful to MidWestOne Bank for this amazing gift to help finish renovations of Lady Liberty,” said Eagle’s Healing Nest Director Melony Butler. “The strong support of the community in both the renovations and operations has help the Nest tremendously. This has enabled us to focus on our mission of providing our veterans, military members and families a safe home, giving hope and offering resources to heal. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to MidWestOne Bank for helping us complete our home that will help countless veterans for decades to come."

The Anoka property is the second location for Eagle’s Healing Nest. The non-profit was formed by Butler, who opened the Sauk Centre, Minn. location after recognizing the need to support veterans who were struggling with the physical and psychological wounds they had sustained while serving in the military. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that roughly 11 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. Most are single, live in urban areas and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Though the transient nature of homeless populations makes it challenging to get accurate numbers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 40,056 veterans are homeless on any given night.

With renovations to the women’s home wrapping up, Eagle’s Healing Nest Landing will now turn its attention to the third and final building on the historic property. Cottage No. 3 is slated to become a home for military families. 

Eagle’s Healing Nest relies entirely on volunteers and private donations. To make a monetary donation to Eagle’s Healing Nest, please mail a check to: 

MidWestOne Bank c/o Eagles Healing Nest
3585 124th Avenue
Coon Rapids, MN 55433

For more information about the grant, please contact Sheryl Carlson at 763-422-4508. 

Habitat Breaks Ground on Minnesota’s First “Veterans Build” Project

Military family gets a new home, volunteers get a chance to make a difference

Following months of planning, the ground was broken on September 17, 2018, in a ceremonial launch of the first “Veterans Build” in the state of Minnesota for Habitat for Humanity.  Soon a slab will be laid and construction will begin; ultimately providing safe and affordable housing for a veteran family.  The property is located near downtown St. Cloud, donated by private party to Habitat to support its mission.

 The house will be built by volunteers, along with more than two hundred hours of sweat equity by the new homeowner, family, and friends over the next 9-12 months. With oversight of Habitat, local contractors provide and supervise the work, and many gifts-in-kind from suppliers and builders will come together to make this home a reality. Once the home is complete, the chosen homeowner will purchase the home from Central MN Habitat for Humanity with an affordable mortgage and payment. 

 Quoting Habitat founder Millard Fuller, Minnesota’s statewide Executive Director Chris Vosbeek shared a guiding principle the organization is founded on, “Life is both a gift and a responsibility.”  He went on to state that when community members come together, good things happen.  The project launching in St. Cloud is a testament to that.  

MidCountry Bank, Jacobs Financial, EMS and NETTwork Manufacturing provided key sponsorships to make this project a reality.  “MidCountry Bank is pleased to be a part of this region’s first Veterans Build project,” said Steve Meads, President and CEO of MidCountry Bank. “We appreciate the opportunity to help a military family achieve their homeownership dream, while providing community volunteers and our local team members the chance to help construct this new home in the historic  Northeast Wilson Park neighborhood.”  

Watch for more information and volunteer opportunities on the Habitat for Humanity – Central MN website  Habitat for Humanity is always looking for folks who can lend a hand to complete this important work. 

Painting rocks at Oak Hills

Frandsen Bank & Trust impacts LAFS with paint job, yardwork

Peoples State Bank donates to PEM's 'Angel Fund'

Newly founded fund allows for every child to eat hot lunch

Members of the Minnesota Bankers Association (MBA) Leadership Development Academy, Robert Root and Lauren Schuster, along with Susan Suckow from Peoples State Bank, present a check to Plainview-Elgin-Milleville Public Schools (PEM's) Food Service Director, Tami Folkert, and PEM's Superintendent, Bill Ihrke, for the amount of $3,350. The funds will be used to pay off PEM's school lunch deficit and the remainder to be applied to PEM's newly founded Angel Fund. The PEM Angel Fund allows for every child to be able to eat a hot school lunch.

Suckow's team at the MBA Academy, named Cold Steel, consists of six community bankers in Minnesota. The teams were tasked with a project that would benefit each of their local communities. They decided on a project to help reduce school lunch debt in each of their six school districts. The focus is on school lunch debt created by students with a hardship who do not qualify for free lunches. The goal is to bring awareness of this problem and raise funds to assist schools, families, and students in their local areas. The team's mission has been named: FAST-Feed All Students Today.

Peoples State Bank employees donated funds from their casual Friday funds and participated in a raffle drawing, along with a generous Peoples State Bank donation toward the cause. 

Stearns Bank Donates $108,000 to Help the Families of Wounded Veterans

Donation allows Wounded Warriors Family Support to purchase vehicles for veterans in need
This March marks 15 years since Wounded Warriors Family Support was founded, with the goal of assisting the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. Thanks to a generous gift by Stearns Bank, WWFS is starting off this milestone in a strong way. Among other critical support, Stearns Bank’s donation of $108,680 will be used to purchase vehicles for Native American veterans living on remote reservations.
“Our Native American veterans must travel great distances to reach a VA clinic for their health care,” said WWFS founder Colonel John Folsom, USMCR (Ret.). “Currently, they don’t have reliable transportation and these vehicles will ensure they are able to receive the timely and consistent care they need. We are very grateful to Stearns Bank for their support. This generous contribution goes a long way toward helping our organization execute on our mission.”
Stearns Bank generated the large contribution by donating all loan packaging fees and documentation fees collected from borrowers during the week leading up to Veterans Day last November. Stearns Bank will continue its nationwide program of waiving 100% of the bank’s packaging fees on SBA loans for eligible veteran business owners, in addition to providing the other SBA program savings for veterans.
“We are proud to support and recognize the many men and women who serve our country,” said Stearns Bank CEO Norman Skalicky. “We honor their dedication and sacrifices, and Stearns Bank will continue to do all we can to support veterans and their families.”
Skalicky himself is a veteran. His military career began with the ROTC program at the University of North Dakota. He served on active duty in the United States Army from 1956-58 and then served in the reserves for more than 15 years.
“We are very happy to begin our 15th year as a foundation with Stearns Bank by our side,” said Col. Folsom. “Not only is this financial support critical for our organization’s ongoing efforts, this act of kindness has a positive emotional impact on the families we serve at a time when they need it most.”  
Individuals and organizations interested in donating to WWFS can find more information at

Winona National Bank Employees Donate $854 from Jeans Day Funds

Winona National Bank is pleased to announce two donations in the amount of $427 each to the Winona Community Warming Center and the Winona Area Public Schools Feed the Kids Fund. The donations were made possible from “Jeans Day” collections, where employees choose to pay $2 each Friday to wear casual jeans during the work day, with the proceeds benefitting local non-profit organizations.

After soliciting nominations from employees, the Bank’s Public Relations Committee selected two organizations to support: the Winona Community Warming Center, nominated by Loan Operations & Business Banking Specialist Julie Monson, as well as the WAPS Feed the Kids Fund, nominated by Trust Support Specialist Diana Bartholomew.

The Winona Community Warming Shelter provides temporary, emergency shelter for the adult 18 and over homeless population of Winona County. It provides a safe, warm overnight stay every night from November through March and is a program of Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.

The Winona Area Public Schools Feed the Kids Fund is a safety net for K–12 students who do not have sufficient funds in their accounts to cover the cost of school meals and who do not qualify for meal benefits. The program saves children the embarrassment of not having money to pay for their meals.

Winona National Bank employees understand the importance of giving back to the community they serve. In 2017, 41 Winona National Bank employees donated 1,711 hours of service to 84 local organizations. Over $297,500 was gifted to the community in the areas of education and youth programs, fine arts and culture, health and wellness, and community service. 

MidCountry Bank Makes Contribution to Veteran Project Partnership with
Rebuilding Together Twin Cities

MidCountry Bank has been a longtime partner with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities (RTTC), with contributions of time, talent and financial support reaching back over 12 years.  While the partnership between MidCountry Bank and RTTC is not new, the focus of a new joint Veteran project is a first for MidCountry. As part of the partnership, the $50,000 cash donation from MidCountry to RTTC in December provides funding for a home repair project benefitting a Veteran homeowner in need.
Team members of MidCountry are eager to apply the company values of Compassion, Honesty, Integrity, Excellence, and Fairness to the RTTC/MidCountry Bank joint project when it kicks off in the spring. Under the guidance of RTTC program managers, a project site will be selected in the coming months. MidCountry will provide overall project management support, as well as over 400 hours of volunteer work to complete the tasks that will help make life for the selected Veteran better.

Greg Krenz, President of MidCountry Mortgage shares that “MidCountry is honored to have the opportunity to give back to our community through this partnership with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities. Extending our support to a Veteran who has given so much to not only their community, but to our Country, is simply the right thing to do.”

MidCountry Bank is a full-service bank headquartered in Bloomington, MN.  With 14 branch locations in Minnesota, MidCountry actively engages in its communities to provide high quality, diversified financial services and solutions for consumer and business clients.  A comprehensive scope of banking, cash management, equipment leasing, mortgage insurance and investment products, tools and services make us a solid financial ally.

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, an affiliate of Rebuilding Together, Inc., has been preserving and revitalizing homes and communities in the metropolitan area since 1997. Programs provide opportunities for community involvement. Through sponsors and volunteer efforts, Rebuilding Together Twin Cities strives to impact communities and the nonprofit places where neighborhood members gather. 

Winona National Bank ‘Bears & Blankets’ Deliveries

Winona National Bank helped give comfort to those in need, delivering 539 items collected through its annual Bears & Blankets drive. Winona National collected the items from November 24 through December 11 at its three office locations. Employees delivered the items to 12 local organizations, and those organizations will distribute the items to those in need of comfort throughout the year.

This year’s benefitting organizations included Birthright of Winona, Family & Children’s Center, Hiawatha Valley Mental Health, Saint Anne Extended Healthcare, Sauer Health Care, Winona Health, Winona Fire Department, Winona Police Department, Winona Senior High School’s Counseling Office, Winona Volunteer Services, Women’s Resource Center, and the Winona Warming Center. 

Montevideo - Let's Paint the Town Purple

On Monday, September 18, 2017, Minnwest Bank - Montevideo dressed in purple to bring awareness to Alzheimer's Disease, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. The Montevideo Area Memory Loss Network, in conjunction with the Montevideo Area Chamber, is continually working to keep the Montevideo community dementia friendly and getting people talking about Alzheimer's.

The Castle Rock Bank Embraces Community 

The Minnesota Bankers Association celebrated Community Impact Week September 18-22.

The Castle Rock Bank  has a long history of working closely with its community organizations and was delighted to report on their philanthropic endeavor during this time.

The Castle Rock Bank donated $5,000 to 360 Communities for the battered Women’s Shelters in Dakota County. It had previously donated $5,000 to its Golf tournament in August. The bank also donated $500 to the Farmington High School Homecoming festivities which will take place in October, $200 towards the pork chop dinner for the Patriotic Day celebration in November, $300 to the Northfield Women’s Center, $393 to St Michaels fundraiser, and agreed to generate funds for the Farmington Firefighters by placing two advertisements in the Farmington Independent for the Turkey Bingo fundraiser, while donating the napkins and $300 towards the food to be served that evening. Other noteworthy donations were made to the Rambling River Center and the Houston Relief Fund. 

The Castle Rock Bank’s motto is: You know us, we know you. That’s the Spirit of Community Pride!

Western Bank of Cass Lake Donates Books to Local Students

Students at Northern Dreams Gymnastics were greeted on Wednesday with books and a reading from a local author. Author D.R. Winter from International Falls read “Snackster Sam’s Big Adventure,” a book and program designed to help kids make better decisions on which snacks (and foods) are best for their bodies in a new and engaging way. Western Bank of Cass Lake donated a book to each student, as part of the Minnesota Bankers Community Impact Week initiative. 

“Western Bank thinks healthy life choices include exercise, good eating habits and wise use of finances. Choosing good snacks includes delayed gratification, planning for the long haul and exercising will power. All similar considerations in saving and spending money,” stated the bank’s president, Larry Refsland. “We were excited to about the opportunity to work together with D.R. Winter and Northern Dreams Gymnastics to help the students learn about eating healthy in a fun way.” 

Students had the opportunity to take a picture with a large cut-out of the Snackster-Sam character and get a signed book by D.R.Winter.

Northern Dreams Gymnastics has quickly grown since moving into the current location at 207 2nd St NW in Cass Lake and now serves approximately 100 students in gymnastics and karate classes. The students not only learn skills, but are encouraged to make healthy choices part of their lifestyle. Northern Dreams owner, Erin Reyes, has extensive background in nutrition and was pleased to host the Snackster Sam event. She said "It is important for kids to learn to lead a healthy, active lifestyle as well as introducing nutritional eating habits. The two go hand in hand. It was so great for the kids to be able to sit down, read Snackster Sam, and have a fun discussion about their food choices."

WNB Hot Dog Lunch Raises $526.60 for Main Street Program

Winona National Bank raised $526.60 for the Winona Main Street Program after selling its famous $1 hot dog lunch at the Touch-A-Truck and Play Streets event on Saturday, May 13. 

Touch-A-Truck and Play Streets was a free event where families could explore parked trucks in parking lots and participate in activities in the streets. An estimated 2,000 people visited Downtown Winona during the event. 

The Winona Main Street Program is committed to Historic Downtown Winona being the heart of our community and region – a vibrant hub of commerce, entertainment, recreation, and recreational life. Visit for more information.

23rd Annual Chili Cookoff Raises $5,000.35 for Ready Set School

On a beautiful weekend, through sales and donations, a total of $5,000.35 was raised for Ready Set School at the 23rd Annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by Winona National Bank on Saturday, February 11. A large crowd enjoyed 23 varieties of chili donated by local Winona businesses. 

Ready Set School was created to ensure that all Winona County children have the basic and necessary school supplies to better succeed in school. Up to 35% of children in the county may come from families that lack the financial resources to provide supplies to their kids. Ready Set School is there to help those children.

If you have a community service story you would like to share, please contact Carla Bush at the MBA.