Walla Walla Valley wineries help raise $23,723 for food bank

By on December 18, 2015
The 2015 Barrel Full of Money campaign generated $23,723 for the Blue Mountain Action Council’s Walla Walla Food Bank. Making the presentation, left to right, are Duane Wollmuth, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance; Scott Peters, Columbia REA and Blue Mountain Action Council members Kathy Covey and Jeff Mathias,

The 2015 Barrel Full of Money campaign generated $23,723 for the Blue Mountain Action Council’s Walla Walla Food Bank. Making the presentation, left to right, are Duane Wollmuth, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance; Scott Peters, Columbia REA; and Blue Mountain Action Council members Kathy Covey and Jeff Mathias. (Photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A year ago, Walla Walla Valley wineries and businesses came up short of the $20,000 target for their annual Barrel Full of Money food bank campaign.

This holiday season, community leaders and more than 60 wineries combined to crush their goal as they presented a check of $23,723.77 on Thursday to the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank. It was a record amount for the five-year campaign, which has raised a total of nearly $66,000 since the creation of the Barrel Full of Money in 2011.

“I’m so proud of our community for pulling together to help those in need,” Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, stated in a news release. “We set the bar for the fundraiser pretty high this year – and we look forward to supporting the food bank through the Barrel Full of Money for years to come.”

Thursday’s total more than doubled that of 2014, which raised $11,408.36 for the BMAC food bank.

Barrel Full of Money is an annual collaboration among wine alliance members, Alaska Airlines, Baker Boyer Bank, Columbia Rural Electric Association, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Olive Marketplace & Café, Capps Broadcast Group and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. This year’s drive began Oct. 13 and wrapped up Dec. 17.

“The amount of money that was raised this year is almost unbelievable,” said Jeff Mathias, BMAC Food Bank director. “It’s going to buy a whole lot of food for local people in need.”

Barrel Full of Money to provide 253,000 meals

More than 60 member wineries of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance participated in the 2015 Barrel Full of Money fundraiser for the region's food bank.

More than 60 member wineries of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance participated in the 2015 Barrel Full of Money fundraiser for the region’s food bank. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

The check presented by the steering committee will be used by the BMAC to purchase food. The previous record of $15,000 was set in 2013.

Each year, the BMAC food bank distributes an estimated 500,000 pounds of food through pantries in Walla Walla County. According to FeedingAmerica.org, a food bank can turn a $1 cash donation into as many as 11 meals. That means the Barrel Full of Money program could generate more than 253,000 meals in Walla Walla County.

Organizers this year launched an auction and wine reception at exclusive Corliss Estates. Wine alliance members and partners donated large-format bottles and special experiences that were sold through a silent auction as well as a live auction orchestrated by celebrity chef/auctioneer Robin Leventhal. The Corliss family provided wine, while acclaimed Olive Marketplace & Cafe served appetizers.

The Barrel Full of Money campaign begin in late October as donation canisters were made available at wineries and other businesses throughout the Walla Walla Valley. Wine barrels – used as donation container – also were featured at Olive Marketplace & Café and the Gesa Power House Theatre. Olive also donated a portion of all sales of its seasonal pumpkin cheesecake.

Alaska Airlines donated two unrestricted roundtrip airline tickets as the grand prize in a raffle drawing. Second prize in the raffle was a one-night stay at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and dinner for two at The Marc Restaurant. Raffle tickets were $10 each, and the winning tickets were drawn during the check presentation.

“The Barrel Full of Money fundraiser has become crucially important to the food bank,” Mathias said. “We’re so grateful for our local wineries and businesses, who truly care about making a difference in the community.”

The Blue Mountain Action Council is a community action partnership agency that provides services to help people meet their basic needs. The BMAC food bank is the regional distribution center for five food pantries in Walla Walla County as well as pantries in, Asotin, Columbia, Franklin and Garfield counties.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit membership organization created to market the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area, which includes providing information to consumers, media and trade.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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