The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation’s board of directors announced this year's Award in Philanthropy recipients are Virginia and the late Kenneth Merrill, of Crosslake.

The Merrills have assisted with the growth and development of Crosslake and the surrounding areas through supporting nonprofit organizations and the city of Crosslake operations, a news release said.

In the city of Crosslake, they have supported many causes that have strengthened infrastructure, helped to maintain the well-being of local citizens and have provided their time and money to support the cultural enrichment of the community.

“We are especially grateful for the support that Ken and Ginny provided to the camp,” former Camp Knutson Director Rob Larson said in the news release. “Our mission to serve children with identified needs was very meaningful to Ken, and his love for family and for all children shown through in his kind and caring demeanor. Ken was a gentle soul who truly believed in our mission and service to these great kids. The Merrills supported us at a time when the camp was going through a rebuilding process. The camp has made great strides over the past decade and we are grateful to the Merrills for trusting in our ability to make Camp Knutson more accessible for more children.”

Todd Lyscio, past executive director of Crosslake Community School, said: “Because of people like the Merrills, there is a beautiful new school building that will serve the community of Crosslake for years to come. Without their generosity, the building would never have become a reality.”

Chip Lohmiller, Crosslake Fire Department chief, shared the department's gratitude for the Merrills' support in purchasing a new fire truck.

There are dozens of more stories of appreciation from other organizations, including the Park and Library Foundation, the Crosslake Food Shelf, Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Lutheran Social Services and the Salvation Army.

In addition, two local women will be honored posthumously with Legacy Awards. Millie Gjertson and Linnea Anderson both left a lasting legacy for all who enjoy and benefit from the projects and activities they supported locally.

The Award in Philanthropy will be presented Thursday, July 9, at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa during the BLACF annual dinner.

To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, visit or contact the BLACF.