The Athens Ladies Civitan Club recently announced winners of it's 2019 essay contest.

The theme of the essay was “ My Hands Making a Difference in My Community, School and Family.”

Organizers said there were 24 letters sent to schools regarding the contest and a total of 32 essays were received. Six were received from local middle schools, with three coming from Lindsay Lane Christian Academy and one each from Athens Middle School, East Limestone High School and Contemporary Education Academy, a homeschool program.

Athens Ladies Civitan received 26 essays from area high schools including 12 from East Limestone High School, one from Ardmore High School, one from Clements High School, 11 from Athens High School and one from Contemporary Education Academy.

The essays were reviewed by Beverly Blakely, Joan Lyford and Janice Christopher.

Winners in the high school division were: first place, Helen Carter, a ninth-grader at Athens High; second place, SaraBeth White, a 10th-grader at Contemporary Education Academy; and third place, Brebhinn Holt, a ninth-grader at Athens High.

Winners in the middle school division were: first place, Samantha Norton, an eighth-grader at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy; second place, Will Anderson, a sixth-grader at Athens Middle School; and third place, Nicholas White, a sixth-grader at Contemporary Education Academy.

First place winners received $100, second place $50 and third place $25.

The first place winners, Helen Carter and Samantha Norton, advanced to the district level, where they both won second place in their divisions and received an additional $75.

All six winners attended an Athens Ladies Civitan Club meeting to read their essays and awards in front of club members as well as some parents and grandparents.

High school division winner Carter quoted John F. Kennedy saying, “one person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

She followed up the quote by saying, “you don't have to be famous to make a difference.”

Carter said her sorority helps her get involved in the community by doing bake sales, picking up trash, volunteering at the Kiddie Carnival, visiting the Boys & Girls Club and participating on the Christmas Angel project. She also took part in a 20% project where she gave up 20 percent of her time to do something in the community. Specifically, she raised money for Relay for Life.

“Making a difference in school is not as hard as it sounds,” Carter said, adding you can help with homework or sit with someone at lunch.

“Doing little acts of kindness is what makes people smile and have a better day,” she said.

Carter said making a difference doesn't have to be difficult.

“You should just be the change you want to see in the world,” she said

Norton, the middle school division winner, said “there are many things a teenager to can do in the community to share love and kindness, and sometimes the gospel.”

She said the Bible teaches her she is to help others.

Norton said she has helped in the community by packing Full Tummy bags, which help provide food to children who only get one meal a day or no meal at all.

“At Lindsay Lane Christian Academy, I use my hands as a member of First Priority group, as well as helping with the Birdie Thornton Center basketball game,” Norton said. “First Priority is a group of middle school-aged and high school-aged students who speak about the Bible, ways to overcome stress, and how to have a godly mindset.”

Norton added she tries to remember that spreading happiness and kindness to others can make someone's day even when she might be unaware it helped in a small way.

Janice Christopher served as the local chairperson for Athens Civitan Club, and Martha Camp was the district chairperson.

The Athens Ladies Civitan meets at noon the fourth Tuesday of the month at the First United Methodist Church Beasley Center. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.