Endowment grows hope in eastern Haywood County, with $62,000 in grants awarded so far this year

The Cruso Endowment, a charitable fund at the North Carolina Community Foundation that benefits the eastern Haywood County community, is offering support to a region that continues to face challenges. 

The endowment, established from the estate of David and Irene Smathers, has already distributed over $62,000 this year to charitable programs and organizations with distributions ongoing. Since 1996, it has granted nearly $700,000 to organizations dedicated to supporting community members and improving quality of life in eastern Haywood County, including nearly $127,000 in 2022. 

Recent projects helped boost community resilience in the wake of devastating floods and damage due to Tropical Storm Fred in 2021. 

Now, with the Canton mill closure underway, the support is especially needed. The mill, owned by Pactiv Evergreen, employed more than 1,200 people and has been in operation since 1908. 

“We are especially happy to be in a position to make the grant for improvements to our town following Evergreen’s mill closure announcement,” said Cruso fund advisor Pat Smathers. “We remain confident in our community and look forward to pushing forward on projects and being a part of what will surely be transitional changes for Canton.”   

New projects aim to help aid the transition to Canton’s next chapter by supporting beautification and recreation in the town. Projects already funded in 2023 include:  

“We cannot thank [the Cruso Endowment] enough for their continued support to make Canton and Haywood County a better place to live, work and play,” said Canton Town Manager Nick Scheuer. 

As Canton looks to its next chapter, the Cruso Endowment will remain a strong root of hope and support for the community.  
 
“The purpose of the endowment is to meet the needs of the community, and now that is even more important,” said Smathers. “We remain committed to collaborating with the town of Canton, Pisgah High School and many other local nonprofits to support and improve our community.” 

Media Contact: 
Hannah Hogewood, NCCF Marketing & Communications Manager 
(919) 256-6901 
hhogewood@nccommunityfoundation.org