GRIFFITH | The Lake Area United Way on Thursday named the winners of its Everyday Community Heroes video contest.
There were three $500 winners and three $1,500 winners of the contest in which participants were asked to nominate, with 90-second videos, someone who has made an impact in education, income/financial stability or health.
The contest generated 86 video nominations and more than 13,000 votes from the general public.
"Speaking for our panel of judges, it was not easy choosing the winners," said Robert Scott, LAUW vice president of marketing and communications.
He then announced the three $500 winners — all of which chose the educational impact category.
The Crown Point High School INTERACT Club was the first winner for its efforts in getting young people involved with the community.
Next was the Merrillville High School STAND Club. Its purpose is to promote diversity and understanding through various efforts throughout the community.
The final $500 award was given to Calumet College of St. Joseph.
"It goes to the entire student body," Scott said.
This is because the college requires each of its students to perform some community service, Scott noted, adding that it is part of the college's mission and Christian teachings.
"This is a great idea," Campaign Chairman Aaron McDermott said of the contest.
McDermott, who also sits on the LAUW board, announced the three $1,500 winners.
Books, Brushes & Bands for Education was the first winner and also chose the education category.
The group helps make young people aware of literature, video and the musical arts.
"It has saved a lot of children from never using their talents," parent volunteer Dave Innes said.
Winning with an income/financial stability entry was the Merrillville Rotary Club.
The club identifies struggling families and helps their children equip themselves with warm winter clothing, McDermott noted.
He also noted that over the past nine years, the club has let more than 2,900 students pick out winter clothing for themselves.
This came at a cost of $225,000.
The final $1,500 winner was to Merrillville High School student Ashley Schiller for her efforts in the health category.
Schiller spoke of a friend who committed suicide at the age of 15.
"It really affected all of us," she told a packed audience.
This inspired her to approach school officials about starting the Suicide Prevention Program, which they agreed to do.
The program offers counseling to kids who ask for help.
McDermott told the winners he hopes they use the money well and continue working to make life better for area residents.
This is the LAUW's first Everyday Community Heroes contest, which was started last November, Scott said.
It is sponsored by American Structurepoint, BP Products North America and Citizens Financial Bank; Lakeshore Public Television served as the media sponsor.