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Essay contest at Lily & Co. makes a winner of many

By Staff | May 12, 2010

Fourth grader Jennifer Crown, winner of the Lily & Co. Mother's Day essay contest, is pictured with her mom, Josephine, along with business owners Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler.

What began as a way for children of the island to share their thoughts on what their mother means to them, with one essay selected as the winner of a sterling silver bracelet, ended with two contest winners awarded as well as a sizable donation to The Sanibel School.

For the past three weeks, Lily & Co. Jewelers staged a contest where students were invited to submit an essay following the theme of why their mother deserves to win an “I Love You 7 Days A Week” bracelet.

The seven bangle bracelet, designed by Charles Krypell Jewelers of New York, was intended to be presented to the award-winning essay writer in advance of Mother’s Day.

However, with a whopping total of 168 essay entries, submitted by the school’s elementary and middle school students, it proved very hard to narrow their field to only a single winner.

Instead, Lily & Co. gave away two bracelets.

A total of 168 entries were submitted for the contest, yielding an $840 donation to The Sanibel School. Pictured with the check are Dan Schuyler, Karen Bell, Tee Ann and Cookie Bailey, Isha Mehraz, Shahana Shakur, Jennifer and Josephine Crown, teachers Diane Cortese and Deanna Evans, Marcus Timm, Billy and Eric Kirkland.

"We got the designer to give us a second bracelet to give away," reported business co-owner Dan Schuyler.

Selected by the editorial staff of Breeze Newspapers, the top essay submitted for the Mother’s Day contest was turned in by fourth grade student Jennifer Crown.

"My mom deserves the ‘I Love You 7 Days A Week’ bracelet because she is a widowed mother trying to raise two young children without a husband helping her," Crown’s entry begins. "When my mother was a married woman at 28, her parents died. She has two jobs and worked very hard to feed our family. Two years ago, my father died from a heart attack in the pool. When she heard the bad news she was devastated and was crying all over the place. As days passed, my mother got lonelier. Every Valentine’s (Day), she thought about my dad."

Jennifer’s mother, Josephine, said that she was speechless when she received the news that her daughter’s essay had been selected as the top contest entry.

"When I read her essay, I started crying," said Josephine, who received the bracelet at Lily & Co. on Saturday morning. "I couldn’t believe she remembered everything that happened. I’m just so proud of her."

Isha Mehraz, a fifth grade student, holds up his essay entry which garnered second place honors.

Crown also explained that she had no idea her daughter had submitted an essay for the contest.

"The bracelet is so nice and the store owners are so generous," she added. "It’s a Mother’s Day gift that I will never forget."

The second place contest entry was submitted by fifth grader Isha Mehraz.

"My mother deserves the bracelet because she is a fighter," he wrote. "When my father left us, I didn’t know why she just kept a smile on her face. Well, after all, I was only 6 years of age. She also did whatever she could to get me a good education. She bought me whatever I wanted. All she asked is I get good grades. Could you guys help do just a bit more? What does the word ‘mom’ mean to you? To me, it means strong, courageous and love. Thank you."

Isha’s mom, Shahana Shakur, was equally excited upon hearing the news.

"Unbelievable. It was a total surprise to me," she said. "When Isha called to tell me about it, he said that he was sitting in the principal’s office. I was wondering what he did to go there, but then he said, ‘it’s OK, mom, I did a good thing.’"

In addition to giving away two beautiful bracelets, Lily & Co. announced a donation of $840 — or $5 for every essay contest entry they received — to The Sanibel School.

“We’ve done a lot of promotions that involve the community, but I don’t think we ever did anything that included the children of Sanibel,” Schuyler said. “We were trying to come up with some way of raising money for the school, and then (co-owner) Karen Bell and I came up with donating $5 for every entry into the contest.”

Bell and Schuyler, surrounded by the contest winners, presented the check to Diane Cortese and Deanna Evans, teachers at The Sanibel School.