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Virginia and Kenneth Merrill received Award in Philanthropy

The Merrills have assisted with the growth and development of Crosslake and the surrounding areas through supporting nonprofit organizations and the city of Crosslake.

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Virginia Merrill, surrounded by family, earned the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation's Award in Philanthropy, along with her late husband Kenneth. Contributed

Crosslake residents Virginia and the late Kenneth Merrill are the 2020-21 Award in Philanthropy recipients from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation.

The Merrills, recognized during a dinner Sept. 2 at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, have displayed a passion for helping others and bettering their community. They have assisted with the growth and development of Crosslake and the surrounding areas through supporting nonprofit organizations and city of Crosslake operations, including supporting the Crosslake Fire Department, Camp Knutson, Crosslake Community School and the park and library.

“There are too many charities to mention that have benefited from the Merrills’ generosity,” Karl Samp, executive director of the community foundation, said in a news release. “The Brainerd Lakes and Crosslake Areas are better places because of their philanthropic giving. We are honored to name them as our 2020 -2021 recipients of the Award in Philanthropy."

In addition, two local women were posthumously honored at the dinner with Legacy Hero awards. Millie Gjertson and Linnea Anderson, both leave a lasting legacy through their generosity, and their gifts will continue to support many in need.

Award in Philanthropy sponsors include: Anderson Brothers; Ameriprise Financial – Stroot; Schumer & Associates; Arnold S. Johnson Enterprises; Bemidji State University Alumni & Foundation; Tim & Ann Bergin; Brainerd Family YMCA; Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp.; Brainerd Lakes Area Women's Fund; Breen & Person LTD; Bremer; Bridges of Hope; Camp Knutson; The Center; Central Lakes College Foundation; CliftonLarsonAllen LLP; Close Converse; Clow Stamping Co.; Crosslake Lutheran Church; Crow Wing Power; CTC; Davidge and Graumann Wealth Advisory Group; Essentia Health - St. Joseph's Foundation; Essentia Health - St. Joseph's Medical Center; Family Services Collaborative of the Lakes Area; Frandsen Bank; Grand View Lodge; Gull Lake Resort; Joey Halvorson - Photography; Happy Dancing Turtle Foundation & Hunt Utilities Group LLC; Dan Hegstad – Video; Jim Anderson Family; Kinship Partners; Lakes Area Kids Enrichment Foundation; Lakes Printing; Lee and Penny Anderson; Maddens; Mary and Jim Jetland; Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union; Mills Automotive Group; Nor-Son Inc.; Northland Arboretum; Pequot Tool & Manufacturing Inc.; The Center; The Shop; Syvantis Technologies; Trust for Public Lands; WeARE the Clinic; and Winegar Dental.

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The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation attracts and administers charitable funds for the benefit of the Brainerd area. Since 1998, the foundation has grown to more than $18.5 million in assets and awarded over $7.4 million in grants to nonprofits. The foundation is governed by a local board of directors and is a partner of CommunityGiving, which is a collaborative of many community foundations united under a single framework to create efficiencies that maximize the impact of donors. Collectively, CommunityGiving administers more than 900 funds totaling nearly $201 million. Learn more at communitygiving.org/BLACF .

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Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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