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20140813_095841_resizedOur friend and owner of the Piggly Wiggly on Washington Avenue, Ralph Malicki, was honored Wednesday morning by the Wisconsin Grocers Association with a Community Service Award.

The event was a surprise to Malicki and attended by his family, close friends from the community, the organizations that benefit from his generosity and employees already on the job.

Malicki is one of three grocers being honored in Wisconsin, and he was nominated by Dan Difiore and Pam Moore of Piggly Wiggly Midwest.

When they filled out the nomination form, Difiore and Moore described Malicki’s commitment to community as “heart of gold efforts in the community.” They also said Malicki goes above and beyond helping to keep the greater Racine area safe by serving on the Crime Stoppers of Racine County board and helming the board of Neighborhood Watch.

Diana Anderson Higgenbottom is the force behind Santa in a Shoebox, and she said that with Ralph’s help, her small effort to help the area’s less fortunate grew from 150 boxes per year to over 800 in 2013.

“Ralph is completely selfless. He saw the vision of the shoeboxes and because of his generosity, the shoeboxes have grown to over 800 boxes!” she said. “He genuinely cares about people. He doesn’t do it for attention or recognition; he does it because he has a genuine passion for his community.”

For Alex Malicki, Ralph’s oldest son, thinks his father is deserving of the recognition in part because of the example Ralph sets for his boys Alex and Ben.

“My father exemplifies the qualities of a charitable man. His contributions to the community, whether it be large scale or small, go above and beyond any and all expectations,” Alex said. “He consistently strives to provide a positive atmosphere for his employees and community members in all events that he is involved with. His acts are selfless and are teaching my brother and I how to become influential community members.”

Difiore and Moore also made note of the growth of a weekly Veterans Cafe, a social morning Malicki hosts at his store for area vets with coffee, juice, pastries, and fruit all at his cost.

“One of Ralph’s more recent and very successful events is the Veteran’s Café, where all war veterans gather at his store to socialize, share stories and enjoy coffee and breakfast on Ralph!” they wrote.

Malicki has worked in the grocery business since the early 1990s and opened his first Piggly Wiggly franchise in 2011 and will open a second location in Oak Creek in early September.