Established in 1907, in Hanceville, Merchants Bank is one of the concerned and caring businesses that make Cullman such a special place to live. Because of businesses like this one, and others who make it a point to give back to the community, Cullman can offer services, recreation and educational opportunities that are enjoyed throughout the county.
Perhaps Merchants Bank’s senior vice president and loan officer, LaRue Brock, said it best: “The community supports us and we support the community.”
Merchants Bank now encompasses five locations throughout the county — Hanceville, the Highway 157 branch, branches in Fairview and Arab, and the main branch in Cullman on U.S. Highway 31.
They are the first-place winners of the 2013 Small Business Fundraiser, quite a distinction in a city where giving is considered a way of life.
For Merchants Bank’s chief financial officer, Clark Rainwater, it’s a matter of corporate citizenship. “We feel a responsibility, a duty and a commitment to give back to the community,” he said.
One of the biggest ways the bank gives back to the community is through its fundraising efforts. Each year Merchants Bank sponsors a charity classic golf tournament at TP Country Club. Now in its 21st year, the tournament is a popular and profitable endeavor for the bank and the recipients of the event. “It’s a fun thing to do, and the right thing to do,” said Rainwater. “The sponsors of the tournament have been extremely loyal for over 20 years. We couldn’t be so successful without their dedication.”
Those sponsors include approximately 125 businesses, corporations, and private individuals who are champions when it comes to the welfare of Cullman County. They are the backbone of the community and often expect no recognition or praise.
Over the years, the charity classic has grown from six teams the first year, to last year when the total was 36 teams. There have been as many as 42 teams in the past.
“We couldn't have done this without the support of our loyal and dedicated group of volunteers," added Brock.
“The tournament is not only fun for the participants, it also allows them to give back to the community, which always makes anyone feel good,” said Rainwater. “It’s also a great way to network — a lot of business deals are made on the golf course.”
The charity classic golf tournament started out as a fundraiser for the Alabama Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranch (now the Alabama Sheriff’s Youth Ranch). In later years it grew to include local three agencies, Good Samaritan Clinic, Cullman Caring For Kids, and Hospice of Cullman County.
“The Merchants Bank Charity Class Golf Tournament is one of the largest golf tournaments we host.” said TP General Manager, Cherri Drake, “It is always a fun tournament for the players. It plays a vital role in the community raising money and awareness for local charities.”
Javon Daniel expressed his gratitude in this letter to the Merchants Bank’s staff, officers and trustees, “On behalf of the Cullman Caring For Kid’s Board of Directors, the staff, and especially the clients, we serve, we want to give you and everyone associated with the golf tournament a very special thank-you. Because of each of you there will be fewer families and children going to bed hungry tonight. It is organizations and individuals such as you that make Cullman a special place to live and raise a family. The words ‘thank you’ seem such a small token to express our gratitude to each of you.”
The golf tournament isn’t the only way that Merchants Bank has found to give a helping hand to Cullman County. They also host a team in Cullman’s Relay For Life, which is one of the largest in the state of Alabama. The bank helps to fund the Wallace State Community College Foundation, both the Cullman City and County student investment foundations, the Cullman Parks and Recreation Department, with emphasis on Heritage Park and the Field of Miracles, and the Bloomin’ Fest, Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation’s For Kid’s Sake program, the United Way of Cullman County and the various local agencies under their umbrella, and the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Merchants Bank has been (and continues to be) a loyal supporter for United Way of Cullman County,” said UW Executive Director, Sammi Danford. “We greatly appreciate all they do for us and for Cullman County as a whole. They are an excellent community partner.”
Merchants Bank is also a proud member of the Cullman County “Adopt A School” program, where they help to support Fairview and Hanceville schools at all grade levels, as well as other schools and various academic and athletic departments throughout the county.
“For over 20 years, each time it’s held, all of the proceeds go to wonderful organizations,” said Freedom Insurance’s Gloria Williams. “Merchants Bank is a prime example of Cullman County giving back to this wonderful community. In this economy, where schools are struggling, companies are closing and families are moving out — Cullman continues to grow in all aspects around the county. We live in an area where neighbors help each other, and I send a big salute to Merchants Bank for all that they do to keep Cullman a No. 1 place to raise your children.”
“It’s very rewarding for us to know that we can be a part of helping to make a difference in the both the community and in the lives of individuals of all walks of life who have needs,” said Rainwater.
Merchants Bank President, Charlie Nesmith, feels good about how the bank has been able to help support so many community endeavors. "We do this to benefit local programs," said Nesmith. "Merchants Bank has always felt a responsibility to the community.
"When the dust settles, we get positive feedback from many participants in the golf tournament who comment that this is their favorite tournament of the year."
This year's Merchants Bank Charity Classic Golf Tournament is tentatively scheduled for August 4, 2014. Mailouts will be sent in June.
Special thanks goes to the Charity Classic’s Dinner Sponsors:
Cullman Jefferson Gas
Doyle Real Estate
Edison & Associates
Mitch Smith Associates
Par 3 Sponsors:
Freedom Insurance-Gloria Williams
Fuller, Willingham, Fuller & Carter
Jeb Williamson, CPA
Smith & Smith, LLP
And a special thanks to prize sponsors;
Stouts Mountain Ranch – Brad Tinney
Donations were made by:
AJ’s Ice Company
Cullman Food Service
Doug Doggett Jewelers
Ed White Jewelers
Johnny’s Bar B Que
Tro Golf Discount
The Final Touch
Tri-Green Equipment Co.
Thanks also goes to all of the 125 wonderful hole sponsors who make this charity tournament possible.