2013 Essay Contest Winners

First Place

Jadaicia Ervin
Montford Middle School

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

This quote is important because it has a lot of meaning behind it and it really makes you think; “How can I spread light in my community?” You can directly spread light in many different ways. A few examples are donating clothes and shoes for the homeless and needy, helping out those in need by giving money, food or even something as simple as your time. These examples are also ways of giving hope. In other words when light it spread, most of the time hope is also given.

For starters, to spread light means to volunteer and spread goodness throughout the community to individuals that may not be as fortunate as you are. When a person volunteers to serve their community, they tend to spread hope and shed light upon the less fortunate. In other words, the process of volunteering or spreading light is a never-ending cycle. To add to this cycle, after light is spread, it is also reflected. Light is reflected by passing on a good deed that was given to you. Being involved in community service can spread light by giving others hope. You can pass hope on to others by giving them your time, and helping them if they are in need of something that you are able to provide them with. In that way, you are being the candle and spreading light directly. An instance, in which someone is a mirror and reflects light, is by passing on their hope to others indirectly. Making someone else happier gives them hope for something better. If someone see’s the person that you have filled with happiness and hope then they will possibly have hope too. The two are different because hope was not directly given to them but in fact reflected off of someone else. The quote relates to my service in school because in school you also spread light however; it is through learning, specifically by passing on to others what you have been taught, so they can better understand.

To sum it all up, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” When you are the candle, you tend to spread the joy and hope to others, however ; when you are the mirror, your hope and joys are reflected through your good deeds and actions.


Imani Walker
Griffin Middle School

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” There are many opportunities to be a candle or a mirror spreading light, for example people can volunteer to help others with fundraisers or people can give to the homeless. I have helped the community by cleaning up and by assisting people around me. It is always a great idea to do something for other people to make them feel bright or be proud.

To begin with, there are many ways you can be a helping hand with community service. I have helped my neighborhood by cleaning up trash. I remember when I was roaming the neighborhood one day and I didn’t like what I was seeing. There was so much trash that I couldn’t let it sit there another moment. I went home, got a large trash bag and started picking it up. As I was picking up trash many people were coming outside with a grin; some were even getting large bags and starting to help me. Doing something right will always lead to something better, which will make people happier themselves.

Furthermore, I have also helped the elderly and other people that needed assistance. I remember a time I was coming out of Wal-Mart and I saw an elderly lady struggling to open her car. I felt bad for her so I went to help. As I was walking up to her car I asked if she needed help with her groceries. She said, “Yes, please”, so I helped her put groceries in the car. She said thank you and offered me ten dollars, but I said no thanks. It was just the right thing to do. There were other people around observing how I had assisted the woman. They all looked happy. I think they will now think more about helping out someone in need when they see it because of what they saw me do.

Honorable Mention

Rebecca Morales
Maclay School

A Little Goes a Long Way

The world would be a better place if was all did a little good. I think it is our nature as humans, and certainly as Americans, to want to make the world a better place. We start each New Year, then each month, and then every Monday determined to make changes, start a new habit, or get rid of an old one. When things become too busy and the chaos of life and schedules take over, our resolutions weaken and we fall back into our same old routines. Sometimes making changes seems overwhelming. We feel we can’t possibly have the power to make a change in this world because it’s too messed up, it’s too broken. It’s hard to imagine how one person can make a difference.

There is an old saying that says if you change nothing, nothing will change. If we do want the world to be a better place, we are going to have to change something. We are going to have to do something. There are people who can do the big things, and there are people, who are probably most of us, who can support what they do.

Blake Mycoskie is someone who I admire who made a big change in his life to make the world better. His message to everyone is “Starting Something That Matters”, and it is also the title of his New York Times bestselling book. He is the founder of Toms Shoes, and he humbly gives himself the title of Chief Shoe Giver. He started a new company that does something big (providing free shoes to millions who need them) and gives every person an opportunity to support and be a part of that great gift by simply buying cute-but-practical shoes. When people buy Toms, I think of it as community service in disguise. His company matches a free pair of shoes for someone in need for every pair of shoes sold. Knowing that your purchase is actually buying two pairs of shoes, one pair for you and one for a child, who could not afford to buy a pair of shoes, is a very satisfying experience. You are helping, just by choosing to buy your shoes from a company that care about making a change in the world. Toms’ commitment to giving attracts customers, inspires employees, and appeals to community partners who want to give back. Reading the success story of the Toms Company, and of the millions of shoes provided to others, gives me a sense of fulfillment and hope that we can all do something.

Edith Wharton wrote the meaningful quote, “There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle or mirror that reflects it.” What would happen if we all did one or the other, instead of doing nothing? I hope to be a person who makes changes for the better, even if they are small ones.

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