by Dennis Dalman
Collecting items for food shelves, helping at the humane society, lending a hand to neighbors in need – those are just three ways everyone can “Live United,” which is the theme of an award-winning essay by Sartell Middle School student Rachel Lindmeier.
The daughter of Mary Kay and John Lindmeier of Sartell, Rachel is a fifth-grade student in teacher Jen Olson’s class.
The essay contest was sponsored by United Way of Central Minnesota.
She was one of four students who were presented “Live United” awards by United Way personnel Feb. 24 at Sartell Middle School. They were among 13 SMS students who wrote essays for the contest. One student decided to enter a “Live United” video instead of an essay, and she too was given an award. All of the essay writers were honored for their work with a pizza luncheon at the awards ceremony, hosted by Lori Dornburg, SMS academic extension coordinator. The students then took turn reading their essays and watching the “Live United” video.
All students were given a certificate of appreciation and a “Live United” bracelet.
The top winners, other than Lindmeier, are Alice Colatrella and Ava Hommerding for their essays, and Sarah Ufearo for her video. They were each given a $10 gift card. Grand-prize winner Lindmeier was given a $20 gift card.
All of the essay writers are SMS fifth-graders, except for Ufearo (a sixth-grader). They were challenged to write essays about “Live United,” explaining how acts of kindness and volunteering affect them and the people around them. It was the first time the United Way of Central Minnesota has initiated the essay contest, and SMS is the only school where it has been done.
The other SMS essayists who were honored with certificates are Natalie Betts, Brooke A. Eibensteiner, Mitchell Grahek, Alexandra Joseph, Lauryn Kramer, Maliah Nemeth-Grabinski, Abbie Owens, Trina Schwinn, Sophia Speckhard and Deborah Ufearo.
The ceremony at SMS included Jessica Johnson, United Way marketing and communications director; Betty Schnettler, United Way community impact coordinator; Kelsi Woods, a St. Cloud State University social-work intern student with United Way; SMS fifth-grade teacher Katie Bachmann and SMS Principal Julie Tripp; and Mary Kay Lindmeier, the mother of Rachel.
The following is Lindmeier’s grand-prize essay:
My name is Rachel and I live “United” in many ways.
First, I love to volunteer at Place of Hope, which is the food shelter for homeless people. Every Saturday, I work for two hours and serve food to them. The people are very funny and kind, and I love to visit them.
Second, my best friend is paralyzed and in a wheelchair. She is so funny and sweet, and I love to push her around. She gets bullied a lot because she is different, but I always cheer her up and make her happy.
Finally, I volunteer at the Humane Society. The animals are friendly and adorable. It helps by saving money for workers, and they can get better care for the animals.
It is good to help people like them. I love helping out people and volunteering. You can help in so many ways, but this is how I help the world.