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Contest Winners #231
Describe a time you helped someone, and what about it surprised you
Writing Contest Winners

1st Prize
A New, Old Friend

Victoria Sherman, 15, Franklin, PA
I was about 12 years old when my neighbor asked me to help her out. She’s an elderly woman, too frail and sick to be living on her own. I agreed, not exactly excited, considering that I have a hard time being around new people for long periods of time.

On my first day, I was nervous and awkward; I didn’t know where to start. I even stuttered when I greeted her. She welcomed me with a warm hug and directed me to the living room, not seeming to notice how nervous I was. We made idle chat for a little bit about weather and school.

Eventually she had me begin cleaning. I scrubbed walls, dusted shelves, vacuumed stairs. When I was in the same room with her she talked to me about her younger days, and it was nice. I learned interesting things about the 1930s, and it was really neat to hear it from someone directly, rather than a history book or website.

When I was finished I was tired, and my body felt sore. My hands were scrubbed raw and I managed to stub my toe while moving a couch. Still during those three hours I learned an important trait: patience. I learned to focus on what I was doing, and to go slow rather than rush it.

Her house sparkled and I felt so proud. She offered me money, and even though she insisted, I didn’t take it. Instead I pulled her into a warm embrace, like she had with me, and thanked her.

I’m 15 now and we’re the best of friends. She’s almost like another grandmother to me, and I’m glad to have her in my life.

So the point of this story is, don’t be afraid to try new things because you never know, something amazing may happen.

2nd Prize
Loving to Give

Isabella Trasolini, 14, Newbern, TN
“Nobody really enjoys giving,” I absentmindedly said to myself as I sat in church one Sunday. Bored, I watched the passionate preacher standing behind a grand podium.
He preached on how “you give and you get,” shouting that the world is poisoned with greed and vehemently reminding us that millions of people are starving, and helping them is the responsibility of God’s followers. As we listened, the preacher fervently assured us all that if only we gave, we would receive in return. Meanwhile, somewhere in the church, a baby wailed.

I shuffled my feet, thinking that there must be some law of nature that commands all babies to cry during church. The preacher bellowed something about God’s love for the poor. Someone behind me sneezed. After a long hour-and-a-half, we were dismissed. Everyone stampeded out of the double doors and into their cars.

Later that night, I checked my email. The first message was from a charity. Undoubtedly attempting to guilt me into donating, they had sent me a depressing picture of a skeletal toddler standing almost naked in a shack made of dirt. The combination of the dull sermon from that morning and the toddler’s bulging brown eyes compelled me to click on the large “donate” button flashing on the screen.

Here, it is necessary to explain my attitude toward money. I had greedily hoarded whatever money I was given. I never spent it on nonsensical things, like cell phone cases or overpriced boots. Instead, I poured it into my savings account, figuring that it would come in handy in the future, maybe for a car or college. I never gave money away. Therefore, it was unusual for me to consider donating to a charity.

Upon clicking on the “donate” button, I soon found that for $50, I could feed a starving child for an entire year. Fifty bucks! Sure, it was a fantastic deal, but that was my $50. I warned myself that one day, I was going to need that money. I was torn: greed versus pity. However, I eventually caved.

The next day, I won $200 in a contest at school. After winning the cash, I stared at it for a moment, open-mouthed. At first, the event seemed like a coincidence, but I knew that wasn’t the case. I could not help but recall my preacher’s words: If only we gave, we would receive in return. The old adage, however overused, was true. You give and you get.

After this experience, I began to overcome my greed. At first, I encouraged myself to give by reminding myself that I would receive in return. But I soon discovered that when I gave, my payback was often not monetary. For example, my compensation might merely be the smile on a child’s face.

Now, I still save money for my future, but I am not afraid to spend some on good causes. I love to see the impact my giving has on those around me. I never thought I’d say it, but I love to give.

3rd Prize
How My Heart Softened

Clarice Harris, 17, Charlton County High School
Folkston, G

About five years ago one of my aunts got sick again. She had been cancer-free for about four years; however, her only son died in 2008 and after that she slowly began to change. We started noticing that she was beginning to forget things. Simple tasks, such as lifting her feet on to the bed, had became a challenge for her.

After some tests, we found out she had a brain tumor and had to undergo surgery. Then she went through chemotherapy and radiation. Although she could still walk and talk, she forgot a lot of things that happened in the past and even conversations that had taken place a few days before.

My grandmother became my aunt’s caretaker. After school, my siblings and I would go to my grandmother’s home until my mom got off of work. During this time my grandmother started asking me to help her with my aunt. I started out preparing meals and talking to my aunt to keep her company.

As my aunt’s symptoms progressed she could not stand for a long period so we began assisting her as she walked. Next I was asked to help give her baths. This was the hardest part for me because I did not even like to change babies’ diapers let alone an old person. But I did it to help my grandmother. After a while I began administering medicine and massaging my aunt’s legs to help with the circulation.

This experience not only changed how I viewed old people but also the sick. I didn’t think I had the courage to help someone who was sick or who could not do for themselves. But after assisting my aunt my heart softened and I began to care more about the needs of others. Seeing someone so strong and passionate for life fall sick to the point where she needed assistance for things most people take for granted was a huge eye opener. I realized that we all need help in life, whether physical, mental, financial, or emotional. This experience not only changed my view on life and my selfish ways, but also inspired me to consider becoming a physician’s assistant, or another career where I can help others.

Contest #230 - Honorable Mentions
Mas Nur Aisyah, Abiola Ajibola, Jade Ajileye, Reham Aly, Dishelle Shaquena Apollo, Ian Aubuchon, Angelica Ayala, Nariman Abu Aziz, Karalee Beall, Meagan Blacher-Tatum, Hailey Bob, Hikmah Bokoya, Kayla Borkovec, Courtney Byrd, Alina Bravo, Tatym Brown, Lauren Buddendeck, Jalise Butler, Taylor Campos, Jaiden Capp, Lois Chapman, Rebekah Child, Laura Christophersen, Ashley Cogdell, Sokhna Fall, Jamalia Francis, Ashley Garver, Elizabeth Gordon, Zane “Todd” Gray, Kennedy Green, Lisa Hamant, James Helm, Laura Ilioaei, Tiffany Jiang, Laura Keane, Maria Kerr, Laura Killen, Chioma Lewis, Shannon Li, Znyha Lorenzana, Makoto Manheim, Keyna Mecias, Lillian Meng, Leann Mengelkoch, Cassandra Meyers, Emery Mitchem, Annaliese Nygord, Megan Nylund, James O’Brien, Lauren Onianwa, Julien Padillo, Abigail Panz, Aralei Penland, Ivy Phetteplace, Rhodney Pierre, Sheril Pinnock, Victoria Pope, Hannah Providence, Abigail Quick, Ali Raza, Megan Randell, Darnesha Randle, Bethany Richardson, Elizabeth Richardson, Kania Rimu, Lazaro Salazar, Maha Sheikh, Kobey Wesley Smith, Maddison Stauffer, Niraja Surendran, Spencer Thomas, Carly Wanna, Ashleigh Wilson, Sarah Wilson, Tiana Zuniga.

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