Lawrence and LaVonne Moorse.

The ‘Can Man’ honored by his peers

When he retired 11 years ago, it quickly became evident that Minneota native Lawrence Moorse wasn't ready for a rocking chair.

With his wife, LaVonne, urging him to make better use of his idle time, Moorse started volunteering at The Kitchen Table Food Shelf in Marshall.

“I had been retired for only two weeks and I was just sitting in the rocking chair,” Moorse admitted.

“I don't like sitting around so my wife told me to get moving.”

“I knew the gal that ran the food shelf at the time in Marshall and so I went to talk to her. She put me right to work and I've been there ever since.”

Now 88 years old, Moorse still works at that food shelf three hours a day and five days a week. He arrives before the food shelf opens or after it closes to help unpack boxes of food and stock the shelves.

“I see all these people that need food,” he said.

“It makes me glad that I am helping with this so these people can be fed.”

For his tireless volunteer work, Moorse was awarded the Harvey Buchholz United Community Action Partnership Volunteer of the Year Award on Nov. 29 at a banquet at the Redwood Falls Public Library.

The award covers a nine-county area in southwestern Minnesota, meaning he was honored from among many others that were nominated.

Moorse was nominated for the Harvey Buchholz Award by Lori Lerohl, the Volunteer Coordinator at The Kitchen Table Food Shelf, and Margaret Palan, the Community Resources Specialist.

“Lawrence is such a kind and generous man,” said Lerohl.

“He always has a smile on his face. And we always know where he's at because he whistles all the time while he's working.”

The Harvey Buchholz Award is not only given to someone volunteering at afood shelf; it’s for volunteer service of any kind within the nine-county area. Lerohl also gave a touching tribute to Moorse in a speech at the banquet.

“He is so dedicated,” she said. “Sometimes he’s here at 6 a.m.”

“And if we have a food drive and the food is brought in on a weekend, Lawrence will come here to help then, too. He unpacks the boxes, stocks the shelves, and takes inventory. And he knows where everything is.”

Moorse was given a plaque at the banquet, with the inscription reading: “For your outstanding dedication to United Community Action and the people we serve.”

A similar plaque will hang on a wall at The Kitchen Table Food Shelf. LaVonne Moorse said she was also recognized at the banquet.

“I was honored as the woman behind the man,” she laughed. Moorse's lengthy volunteer service of working with non-perishable items for so many years has earned him a nickname.

“They call him 'The Can Man',” LaVonne noted. The Moorses have four children, 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Several of them attended the banquet.

“He never stops; he’s always doing something,” LaVonne said about her husband of 64 years.

“He is still active in the church. If anyone needs help with anything, he goes.” Moorse grew up in Minneota and after graduating, he entered the service for two years. He and his wife have lived in Marshall the past 60 years.

Moorse owned “Highway Surfacing” in Marshall for over 10 years before selling it, but continued to work there for many more years after that.

Moorse still hunts and fishes between Marshall and Minneota.

He renovated a small shack into a two-room hunting and fishing cabin near a pond that is stocked with fish.

“It's a very small cabin,” LaVonne told.

“If he's hunting, he just points the gun out the window and shoots.”

Moorse enjoys spending time with his family, while also helping others in need. “I'm in pretty good health,” he said.

“Life is good.”

The whistling will likely continue, but it sounds like the rocking chair is going to have to stay vacant for a little while yet.

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