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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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Taste of Winona August 9 (07/28/2014)
By Amelia Wedemeyer

     Photo provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region

. The 11th annual Taste of Winona will be held on Saturday, August 9, starting at 5 p.m. at the Winona County History Center. Proceeds from the event will benefit the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.

The Taste of Winona, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region–Winona office (BBBS), will be back Saturday, August 9, for its 11th year. “It’s a great evening of food tasting, wine tasting, socializing and live music,” said Ashley Santolin, BBBS community relations manager. “Plus, it’s for a good cause. There are lots of kids in the area who benefit from having a mentor in their life.”

The event, which helps to pay for various BBBS mentoring activities, as well as routine procedures such as background checks, will feature not only food and socializing, but also a live and silent auction, as well as a wine raffle. “We have nine kitchens that are participating, 80-100 [types of] beer, wine and spirit samples, and live auction items such as art [pieces] and trips to theme parks,” Santolin explained, adding, “and it is all in support of the BBBS youth mentoring program in Winona.”

Tickets for the event are currently available for purchase at Hy-Vee, Midtown Foods, the BBBS office in Winona and the BBBS website. Santolin commented that Taste of Winona is known for its high attendance numbers, with a turnout of 250 to 300 people every year. “People come back year after year because it is a great way to socialize and to become part of the community,” she said.

For BBBS staff as well as those involved as mentors and mentees, the donations and funds raised from Taste of Winona will help foster a positive future for many Winona area youth. According to Santolin, the cost per year to support a “match” — the pairing of a mentor (also known as a big brother or a big sister) and a mentee — is about $1,000. “It pays for mentor background checks, reference checks, interviews and monthly check-ins,” she explained of the money allocation. “Each month we also have something called a match activity. It’s an event we invite all of our matches to and we’ve done fishing on the Mississippi River, holiday parties, cookouts — activities like that.”

The proceeds from Taste of Winona not only help fund current matches, but they also go toward helping to support new matches. Santolin stated that the upcoming fall season is one of the busiest times of the year and that currently, there is a waiting list of about 50 children hoping for matches.

Santolin said that she and the rest of the BBBS staff are excited about the event because it not only provides a fun social event for Winona area residents, but also helps community youth in the process. “We’re looking forward to it,” she said. “Taste of Winona is one of our biggest fundraisers, and we really rely on community support.”

Taste of Winona will be held at the Winona County History Center on Saturday, August 9, starting at 5 p.m. To purchase Taste of Winona tickets visit http://7riversbbbs.org/ or you may buy tickets at Hy-Vee, Midtown Foods or the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Winona.  


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