2008 was the inaugural year for the Heart of Gold. The Foundation received 18 heart-warming nominations, with three finalists selected. Receiving recognition and the opportunity to direct a $1,000 grant to the Rusk County non-profit of their choice:
Finalist Non-profit Recipients
Joe Baye: Troup 45 of the Boy Scouts of America and Westlake Enterprises
Winnie Lee: Ladysmith Elementary School
Al Miller and Richard LaBelle: Westlake Enterprises
With additional proceeds from the Heart of Gold Banquet, the Foundation developed a grant program directed to the county's Junior & Senior High School students. In March of 2009, three $500 grants were given on the high school level, and one $500 grant on the Junior High level for the following projects:
- Matt Bunton of Ladysmith-Hawkins High School
A garden project with vegetables to be donated to the Food Pantry
- Weyerhaeuser Freshman Health Class
Student Redo of the Community Park
- Weyerhaeuser High School Outsider's Class
Research, document and publish "The Outsider's Guide to Blue Hills Natural Areas"
- ReNee Bowers of Weyerhaeuser Junior High
Student Cleanup of Bass Lake Project
The Rusk County Community Foundation is proud to be the conduit through which these grants were made possible, with the generous support of our community. Five thousand dollars are now flowing in our community, enriching the lives of Rusk County residents in a variety of ways.