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BLACF announces 2017 Award in Philanthropy winner

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation Board of Directors and Community Giving announced Stewart C. Mills Jr. as its 2017 Award in Philanthropy Winner.

Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch
Stewart C. Mills Jr. Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation Board of Directors and Community Giving announced Stewart C. Mills Jr. as its 2017 Award in Philanthropy Winner.

The nomination for Mills came from Ruth Gmeinder, BLACF Board of Directors, and Bruce Buxton, family friend.

"I have discussed this nomination with Stewart many times and he has always refused to accept simply because he does not want the recognition," Buxton stated in his nomination letter. "This time I chose to do it without his prior acceptance."

Mills was shaped by his parents' belief in hard work, and giving back, starting with young Stew delivering turkeys with all the trimmings to local families at Thanksgiving each year-anonymously. As he grew to be an adult and a successful businessman, Mills' giving became more substantial, but often stayed below the radar. One small example, he frequently pays for veterans' meals in restaurants anonymously.

Gmeinder listed just a few of Mills' beneficiaries of his charitable giving, including, but by no means limited to: the Crow Wing County Fair, Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, Governor's Fishing Opener, Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, Teen Challenge, Lakes Area Music Festival, Walk A Mile in Her Shoes for Women's Shelter, Lions, City Parks, and too many more to list.

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"Stew loves people ... to be with them, talk to them and help and support them," Buxton concluded in his nomination. "His father and grandmother set the bar high for him and he has honored them by clearing that bar and raising it higher for himself and the next generation. He is an example we should all follow and emulate but it will be a challenge for anyone trying to fill his shoes. "

The award will be presented on the evening of July 13 and BLACF's annual dinner at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Tickets, table sponsorships, and more information may be found at https://www.communitygiving.org/BLACF and click on events, or by contacting

Karl Samp at ksamp@communitygiving.org , or 218-824-5633.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, in affiliation with Community Giving, is a public charity that attracts and administers charitable funds for the benefit of the local community. Since 1998, BLACF has grown to over $9 million in assets and awarded more than $4.1 million in grants to local nonprofits. Community Giving is a collaboration of community foundations united under a single framework to create efficiencies that maximize the impact of our donors.

The core foundations working with Community Giving include the Alexandria Area Community Foundation, the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the Willmar Area Community Foundation. Collectively, Community Giving administers more than 650 funds totaling more than $123 million. Learn more at CommunityGiving.org/Brainerd.

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