“10 Days of Giving” hits 30th anniversary

McKenna Scherer, Features Reporter

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This year’s winter season will mark the 30th anniversary of the city of Winona’s participation in Merchants Bank’s 10 Days of Giving events, with Winona State University’s involvement, which makes a city-wide impact.

The 10 Days of Giving is a community effort to make sure no one goes hungry during the holiday season on behalf of several different resource centers in Minnesota, including Merchants Bank, who helps sponsor the event. Minnesota cities that participate besides Winona include Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Hastings and St. Charles.

The campaign itself started in 1989. Along with this year being Winona’s 30th anniversary with the campaign, it is also St. Charles’ 30th anniversary and Cottage Grove’s 10th anniversary.

Greg Evans, president and CEO for Merchants Bank, explained the mission of the 10 Days campaign and the impact it has made.

“[It] was really instituted to generate awareness for people throughout the Winona community that there are people living here that don’t have enough food,” Evans said. “Over the course of 30 years now, we’ve raised over three million pounds of food to help our local food shelves.”

Thirty-five percent of food donations to the local food shelves are collected during this annual 10-day campaign, and to this date, the food shelf at Winona Volunteer Services has collected more than 3.2 million pounds of food. Each dollar donated also counts as two pounds of food.

From Dec. 1 through Dec. 10, multiple events will be occurring daily throughout the city and on Winona State’s campus.

The first event that will be held on Winona State’s campus is the Holiday Concert for the Hungry on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. As the concert is a part of the 10 Days campaign, admission is free with a gift of a non-perishable food item or monetary donation to the 10 Days of Giving food drive or Winona Volunteer Services.

The Holiday Concert for the Hungry is an annual holiday concert performed by the Winona State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble at the Performing Arts Center. This year’s concert marks the 18th year of collaboration with the campaign and is open to the entire community and campus. Directed by Dr. Melanie Brooks, the concert will also premiere a piece specifically made for the Winona State band by Hanna Lehtonen from Lempäälä, Finland.

Melanie Brooks, the director of bands at Winona State, commented on some of her favorite parts of this year’s upcoming holiday concert.

“Musically speaking, I can’t wait to share Hannah Lehtonen’s brand new piece because it is such a beautiful melody and the story behind the music is incredibly touching,” Brooks said. “Most of all, though, I am excited to reveal the total donations from the event. It’s amazing to see how much that adds up when a large group of people come together and embrace the spirit of giving.”

Brooks detailed some other surprises in the concert, also divulging the name of the brand-new piece by Lehtonen that will be premiered: Sparrow of Christmas Morning.

The revered holiday carol in Finland about holiday spirit and giving will premiere alongside festive music in honor of the first day of Hanukkah, holiday songs the audience will be invited to sing along to, and music to celebrate Finland’s 100th Independence Day.

Before the concert begins, fun holiday music will fill the lobby of the Performing Arts Center while the concert itself consists of nine pieces with varying styles from the talented 80-student Winona State Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble is the primary ensemble in the Winona State Band program, larger the pep band that football and basketball game goers hear at Winona State athletic games. This ensemble rehearses three days a week and performs in four annual concerts, including this holiday performance.

Noted for their exemplary interpretation of both classic and newly-commissioned wind music, the holiday concert both partners with the community to help raise awareness about hunger for families in Winona and exposes those attending to several styles of music. Brooks also revealed that Santa may make an appearance. With a great cause behind a great concert, this year’s Holiday Concert for the Hungry is not one to be missed.

Monetary donations or non-perishable food items like soup, crackers, cereal, and peanut butter can be dropped off at any time at participating school churches, daycares, businesses, Winona Merchants Banks or at any of the Winona State events throughout the ten-day long event.