Paige Kaiser, a student in Suzanne Funk’s class at Greencastle Middle School, is the Grand Prize winner of the Putnam County Community Foundation’s 2015 Darrell Wiatt Family Philanthropy Essay Contest. Kaiser’s prize-winning essay described Robert Jedele, local entrepreneur, as being the philanthropist she admires most. In her essay, Kaiser explained that Jedele has demonstrated a concern for others in several different ways. He joined the Board of Beyond Homeless, Inc., and helped open the homeless shelter by donating his time and money. He joined 100+ Men Who Care Of Putnam County and donated to the McDonald’s Family Charity to help McDonald’s families who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Kaiser concluded her essay by saying, “Bob Jedele has shown a true love for the community, but most of us thank him for the great hamburgers!” In recognition of Kaiser’s accomplishment, Beyond Homeless, Inc., the charity of her choice, received a $150 donation, and her school received a $500 grant. Entries were accepted from 7th grade students in all four Putnam County school corporations. Students were instructed to write a 500 word essay about “The Philanthropist I Know Personally and Admire The Most.” Each school district selected the two best essays and submitted them to The Putnam County Community Foundation. Karen Nelson Heavin, Secretary of the Community Foundation and Chair of the Essay Contest, stated that Essay Contest judges reside in all four school districts and evaluate essays with no knowledge of the identity of the schools, the philanthropists, or the students. Seven finalists were chosen from the pool of essays. Emmy Huber, another student from Ms. Funk’s class at Greencastle Middle School, was a finalist for her essay recognizing Jenny Goins Louis, a missionary in Haiti. “When Jenny felt the calling to go to Haiti, she followed it. She left the comforts of home, her family, and everything she knew, to go and help one of the poorest countries in the world. She has been selfless, and brave to follow her calling. Jenny has devoted her life to make a lasting difference in the lives of others. Jenny has taught me we can all make a difference to someone!” Huber chose Cornerstone Baptist Church to receive her $50 Finalist grant. Emma McLaughlin, a student in Katie Mosley’s class at Cloverdale Middle School, wrote an essay about Todd Lewis, from First National Bank, because he contributes to the community and makes a difference in other people’s lives. She described Lewis’s work in the Cloverdale Lions Club, Cloverdale Community Dollars for Scholars, The Putnam County Community Foundation, SAWs, and Cloverdale Elementary School Lunch Buddies program. “Although Todd is one person, he can do more in one year than an entire group of people. I think I speak for the entire community when I say this, “Thank you.” McLaughlin chose to designate her $50 Finalist grant to the Cloverdale Lion’s Club Endowment.Brayden Mann, another student in Ms. Mosley’s class, was a finalist for his essay highlighting the contributions of Jeff Rich, a local auctioneer, whom he admires as both a role model and a philanthropist. Mann described the support and service that Rich provides to 4-H, the Putnam County Fairgrounds, the FFA Agriculture Advisory Board, and the Cloverdale Clothe A Child program. Mann chose Cloverdale Community Clothe A Child to receive a Finalist grant of $50. Madison Brauer, a student in Jenny Laser’s class at South Putnam Jr. Sr. High School, wrote an essay recognizing Jerry McCullough who works at Putnam County Comprehensive Services with men and women with disabilities. Brauer states, “Jerry taught me a very valuable lesson – to treat others the way I want to be treated. Always.” Brauer chose Putnam County Comprehensive Services to receive a $50 Finalist grant because she has become very close with a lot of people served by the organization. Chloe Custis, also student in Ms. Laser’s class, was a finalist for her essay describing her admiration for her church youth leader, Emma Hoffman. Custis reports that Emma helps to organize the church’s annual mission trip to Mexico and “helps anyone who needs it anytime they need it.” Custis dedicated her Finalist grant of $50 to Soul Harvest Church. Megan Earley, a student in Mrs. Trent’s class at North Putnam Middle School, described her admiration for Dr. Wayne Lewis, a local chiropractor. Earley described Dr. Lewis as having a “passion for the welfare of others.” She reported that Dr. Lewis has volunteered with sports and band boosters and is very involved at his church, where he volunteered to give haircuts for a “Back to School” event and where he teaches a weekly course called Financial Peace University. Earley also mentioned that Lewis makes regular donations to Care Net Pregnancy Center, the Humane Society, and camps for children. Earley chose to give her Finalist grant of $50 to the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry. Grace Timm, also a student in Mrs. Trent’s class wrote her essay about her grandmother, Ruth Ann Timm. Grace described the many acts of kindness and generosity she had witnessed her grandmother doing. “My grandmother is one who loves the world, but really cares a lot for her town, and helps to make it better. She helps the town to grow to its utmost potential.” Grace chose to designate her $50 Finalist grant to Hope’s Way. The Darrell Wiatt Family Philanthropy Essay Contest is a program provided by the Putnam County Community Foundation. Through the program, the Community Foundation hopes to recognize a few of the everyday philanthropists in Putnam County and to ensure that no child will graduate from high school without knowing the meaning of the word “philanthropy.” For additional information visit www.pcfoundation.org or contact Elaine Peck at 765.653. 4978.