WNB Financial helped bring comfort to the needy by delivering more than 420 items collected through its annual Bears & Blankets drive.
The bank, based in Winona, collects blankets, Teddy Bears and similar items from Nov. 23 through Dec. 10 at its three in-town locations. Once items are sorted, employees delivered donations to 11 organizations that distribute items as needed.
Originally dubbed “Beary Merry Christmas,” the bank’s annual Bears & Blankets collection drive started more than 20 years ago. Over the last three years, WNB Financial has collected and delivered more than 1,600 donations. Its one-year collection record occurred in 2016 when 724 items were collected.
“The business community in Winona is very supportive,” said Ben Knuesel, marketing coordinator, who manages the program. “Businesses in town have held staff contests with prizes to support donations. One year we even had a college basketball team that held a blanket-making event.”
Organizations that benefit from the donations include: Birthright of Winona, Family & Children’s Center, Habitat for Humanity, Hiawatha Valley Mental Health, Saint Anne Extended Healthcare, Sauer Health Care, Sugarloaf Senior Living, Winona Health, Winona Senior High School (Counseling), Winona Volunteer Services, and the Women’s Resource Center.
The newest community organization to receive gifts from Bears & Blankets is Sugarloaf Senior Living, Winona’s newest assisted living, memory care and enhanced care facility. The facility has 79 state of the art rooms for elder care. “We’re happy to report that every resident received a blanket,” Knuesel said.