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Wine-tasting to benefit Grace Place

It has been 10 years since the first Wine Tasting Benefit was held to help out the Salvation Army’s homeless shelters in St. Croix and Polk Counties.

Since then, many things have changed about the event except for one thing: Ready Randy’s owner Randy Calleja has been a part of the Wine Tasting Benefit.

“I have always wanted to give back in any way I could,” Calleja said. “I was touched by Grace Place after I found out a person I employed back then got her second chance through them. So I took that as my main reason for wanting to give back and help people get a second chance.”

This year’s event will once again be held at R&D Catering/Ready Randy’s in New Richmond, as it has been for the last seven years. The doors open at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23, with the event going until 9:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event will go to support Grace Place in St. Croix County and Serenity House in Polk County.

Over the past nine years, the Wine Tasting Benefit has raised more than $76,000 and Calleja couldn’t be prouder of the generosity of the community.

“People have really enjoyed the event and had a good time, but they also realize that the event is meant to help others who are not as fortunate as they are,” Calleja said. “We have started to get sponsors for the event as well and they are from around the county, not just from New Richmond. They want to get involved with their communities and give back.”

One of the things about the benefit that has changed from the first event 10 years ago is that it used to be more of a “ladies night,” according to Calleja. But over the years, the benefit has expanded from just serving wine to also serving beer, having appetizers and music.

“Originally, it was just a wine tasting, but then the event started to grow and we expanded it to beer and more food,” Calleja said. “We always host it on deer hunting opening weekend, so it has kind of been a ladies night thing because we used to get mostly women. But now we get a lot of men coming as well and that is why we added the beer.”

Besides the wine and beer, the benefit will also feature a silent auction and raffles, as well as music by “The Rick’s.” Mix 105 and Thunder Country will also be broadcasting live from the event.

“The auction has also grown along with the benefit and ‘The Rick’s’ are donating their time to do this event; we really appreciate that,” Calleja said. “Having the radio stations there is really cool because one year we had a lady write out a $1,500 check and donate because she was listening to the radio stations while sitting at home.”

In the past, the benefit has also had speakers who have went through the program and Calleja enjoys getting to see those people come up and tell their stories.

“It is nice to see letters from the people who have used the program and then see them give back,” Calleja said. “It is pretty amazing to see that happen.”

Tickets for the event are $25 in advance, but $30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Ready Randy’s, B&J Hardware, Family Fresh in New Richmond, Grace Place in Somerset or Serenity Home in Balsam Lake. For more information, call Linda at Serenity Home at 715-485-1221.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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