Bailey Berish and Madeleine Hayes, both Greencastle Middle School seventh-graders, wrote two of the five award-winning essays selected by a panel of judges.
From July through September, Electric Consumer asked youth in grades five through eight to write essays as nominations for the award. The students were asked to write essays on community service. Also required were lists of the students' own community service involvement, as well as letters of reference.
In her essay, Berish cited the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and her church as places she had served her community.
"Helping people, making someone feel good, caring for people you do not know or cleaning the environment are ideas that come to my mind when I think of community service," she wrote.
Berish pointed out in her essay that many people think of community service as a form of punishment for crimes.
"Community service means so much to me, so I like to be involved as much as I can," she wrote. "Church, school, friends and home are all the ways I participate."
Berish wrote about collecting canned goods for food drives, recycling and helping out with clean-up efforts at Little Walnut River.
"We also have a club called the Gumption Girls," she wrote. "The Gumption Girls raise money, sing Christmas carols at homeless shelters and make cards during holidays to give to the elderly."
In her essay, Hayes said community service could be summed up in four words: "helping and pleasing others."
"One small, free act of kindness could make all the difference to someone," she wrote. "Everyone needs love and kindness, and community service is a great way to show that."
Hayes said community service could take many forms.
"I don't even think it has to be something like donating money or volunteering," she wrote. "I believe it could be something like reading to an elder or brightening someone's day. Some people have hard lives. They're too busy or they're incapable of doing what needs to be done or acquiring what needs to be acquired."
Hayes also belongs to the Gumption Girls group.
"I do not pretend that I have done more than most people when it comes to community service, but I have done my small part," she wrote.
Hayes said she had volunteered at the Humane Society of Putnam County, as well as the local homeless shelter. Along with her parents, she helps host a house church that has served college students and homeless individuals.
"When put in comparison with what others have done, my deeds may seem like nothing," Hayes wrote. "But I believe that everything, even the smallest of help, can make a world of difference."
The Youth Power and Hope Awards were established in 2009 to recognize Hoosier youth who are good stewards in their communities. This year's winners were treated to a night's stay in Indianapolis, $100 gift cards, a special luncheon and a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium.
The other three winners were Sara Livengood of Fort Wayne, Kenny Rusk of Waynetown and Jennifer Walter of Pennville.
"Congratulations to each of our winners," Huffman said. "They are truly points of light for our state and for our country."