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Contributed photo Mark Larson (right), manager of the Miltona Liquor Store, stood by more than 4,000 pounds of food collected in October. One Miltona couple, Eugene Oswald (left) and his wife, Ardi, helped the cause by donating close to 900 pounds of food themselves.

Small liquor store with big heart

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food Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

When the patrons of Miltona Liquor Store were asked to participate in a challenge, they didn't only step up to the plate, they hit a grand slam home run.

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Coors Light, the sponsor of a statewide municipal liquor store food shelf challenge, recently awarded Miltona Liquor Store a $1,000 check for collecting the most food - 4,841 pounds worth.

Mark Larson from Miltona Liquor said the establishment participated in the contest last year and came in third place out of the 123 municipal liquor stores that participated throughout the state.

This year, when it came time for the competition, he said his patrons wanted to beat the first and second place teams from last year, which came from Edina and Lakeville, two highly-populated Twin Cities suburbs.

"With only a population of about 300 [city of Miltona], it's pretty amazing that we took first this year," said Larson. "But it's fantastic and a really nice gesture, especially with the way the economy is."

The contest took place during the month of October with participating municipal liquor stores around the state collecting money and food for local food shelves. For every dollar donated, Larson said it would equal one pound of food.

Whichever liquor store received the most food, determined by pounds, would receive an additional $1,000 from Coors Light.

Larson noted that because Miltona is about halfway between Alexandria and Parkers Prairie, the food was split equally between the food shelf in Parkers and the food shelf in Alexandria. In addition, the $1,000 check from Coors Light was also split equally between the two food shelves.

Of the 4,841 pounds collected at Miltona Liquor Store, $1,200 of it was cash donated by various organizations, said Larson, including the Miltona Lions Club, Miltona Fire Department, Carlos Lions, Parkers Prairie Lions and Pride of Lions and the Parkers Prairie American Legion Post 219.

Larson also noted that two Miltona residents - Eugene and Ardi Oswald - donated close to 900 pounds of food themselves.

"They see the neediness around here and want to help," said Larson of his customers. "They are just fantastic people. They have lots of heart and are super troopers for me."

Larson, who recently visited the local food shelves, said it was overwhelming to go into the facilities because of all the people who were there getting food.

While he was visiting one of the food shelves, Larson said he spoke with an employee and learned that between eight and 10 families use the food shelf each day.

"There are so many families in desperate need," said Larson. "My heart goes out to those people."

Larson added that it made him feel good that the small town of Miltona could help out in such a big way and that the Miltona Liquor Store has plans to come in first again next year.

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