The eighth annual Barrel Full of Money fundraiser for the Blue Mountain Action raised its highest amount ever.
The two-month fundraiser put on with the help of more than 60 area wineries, along with businesses and nonprofit partners, jumped 14 percent from last year’s high with $39,396.02.
The check was presented last Thursday to BMAC in a ceremony at Baker Boyer Bank.
The funds raised will provide more than 196,900 meals for those in need, said BMAC Food Bank Director Jeff Mathias.
The food bank distributes more than 928,000 pounds of food through pantries across the county each year.
Since the launch of Barrel Full of Money — a drive that sets up actual wine barrels at a couple of locations and donation canisters all over tasting rooms and participating businesses — the campaign has raised more than $166,000 for the food bank.
The drive is a joint effort between the alliance, BMAC and local sponsor organizations and businesses: Alaska Airlines, Baker Boyer Bank, Big House Brewpub, Columbia Rural Electric Association, Dunham Cellars, Elkhorn Media Group, Hayden Homes, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Olive Marketplace & Café and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
This year’s campaign also included a raffle; donation canisters at local wineries and businesses; full-sized wine barrels — used as donation vessels — at local restaurants; an auction and wine reception at Dunham Cellars; and cash donations from local businesses and residents.
Gifford Hirlinger Winery, which forgoes a formal tasting fee in favor of donations for the Food Bank, provided $5,000 for the campaign — as much as collected through the raffle, officials said.