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National Bank of Commerce community first

Back row, left to right, Heather Hanson, Steve Burgess, Kandiss Fallowfield and Bruce Thompson, stand with, front row, left to right, Cindy Thein, Jill Austin, Shawn Adams and Denise Kovaleski as they pose with the water jugs that they will be throwing change into to raise money for the Hunger Takes No Holiday campaign. (Jed Carlson/

Since 1934, The National Bank of Commerce has helped thousands of individuals and businesses make our region an incredible place to live and raise our kids. By providing the financing to purchase homes, businesses, cars, trucks and recreational vehicles, NBC is a friend and business partner to a majority of area residents. It is the region's largest locally-owned community bank and has become so because of its commitment to Superior and the surrounding area for the past 79 years.

The bank employees have always been involved in community events and with various organizations that benefit members of our area. Their latest effort kicks off next week.

"NBC is hosting its annual all employee training/in service day on Monday," said Valerie Blanchenay, vice president and marketing director. "Part of our program is to have all of our employees bring loose change that day to fill a big water jug. We'll then display a large water jug at each of our six locations. The funds we collect on the 11th and those deposited in our bank lobbies through Dec. 6 will be donated to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank through Hunger Takes no Holiday." The jugs are being provided by Michaud Distributing, she said.

This is the fourth year National Bank of Commerce and its wonderful employees and customers have combined forces with the Hunger Takes No Holiday campaign to make a difference in Superior and the surrounding area.

In three years, Hunger Takes no Holiday has raised $54,000, or $540,000 worth of food, or 270,000 meals by teaming with Second Harvest Food Bank. Our goal for 2013 is $40,000; we are not there yet.

"With the holidays approaching, we think of a simple and effortless way to help those who are not as fortunate and may not have opportunities to participate in gatherings that center around family, friends, and an abundance of food," said Myrna Ronchi, vice president, loan operations department manager for National Bank of Commerce. "Small deposits of loose change will quickly mount in the collection jugs and we know that cast donations go a long distance with Hunger Takes no Holiday."

"A dynamic part of our marketing is to help the community grow," said CEO Steve Burgess, noting that employees and board members serve in many community organizations, in addition to the bank making financial donations and sponsoring events and causes. "We are always leading in our work ethic yet bring humility and dedication to the art of personalized service. We are about building relationships not transactions."

What's impressive is the number of NBC employees who volunteer their time.

"Seventy-eight employees and directors volunteer with 179 different organizations and groups," said Sandy Mattson, vice president compliance and loan review director. "With a volunteer rate of 59 percent, this is twice the volunteerism rate in the United States which is at 27 percent, according to the Department of Labor statistics."

More than half of the employees and directors who volunteer are involved with three or more organizations, she said.

NBC President Wisconsin market Bruce Thompson shared his thoughts on the importance of community involvement.

"When I came to work for this bank in 1983, it was instilled in me that our bank's success has always been driven because of our great partnership with the community -- in the way in which the bank and our employees give back to the community," he said. "That has always been encouraged by the company. I've served on many non-profit boards and associations and I can say with great confidence that this bank's contributions back to the community are extraordinary. We are the largest independent, locally owned bank in the region and we behave that way in our benevolence back to the community."

Next year, as NBC celebrates its 80th birthday, remember what I have always said, "You don't get to be in business for a long time unless you are good at what you do." Please help them help thousands of food-challenged senior citizens, families and kids in our area by stopping at any of their six locations in Solon Springs, Poplar, Duluth, Hermantown and Superior and dropping off your change. Paper money will be accepted, as well. For every dollar you donate, five meals will be provided to our friends and neighbors in need.

Thank you National Bank of Commerce for living your philosophy of community first every day and for helping Hunger Takes No Holiday. Everyone benefits from your support.