“Virtue is about charity and giving yourself to others, morally and faithfully.” Katie Hoerdemann wrote.

Her essay “Virtue and Charity in My Life” took first place statewide for her grade level, after winning the girls division of the Ridgefield Knights of Columbus Council 245’s annual essay contest. Other winners in the Ridgefield Knights’ essay contest were: Liam Preitt, first place, boys; and Emma Hill, spirit award winner.

The students were asked to write on the theme: “What is virtue and what are the ways you exemplify the virtue of charity to glorify and reflect the nature of God?”

The essays were judged by a committee headed by Dr. John K. Fisher, contest chairman. The contest at St. Mary School in Ridgefield was coordinated by eighth grade teacher Jennifer Kasinskas.

Describing her efforts to exemplify charity in her essay, Katie told of training her dog, Charlie, to be a therapy dog and bringing him to a nursing home each week for over a year.

“These people, who had gone through a great deal including cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other difficulties, were overjoyed when seeing Charlie,” she said of her therapy dog visits. “They would tell stories of their childhood dog and would tell us how much it meant to them to see Charlie each week.”

She also wrote of packing and delivering meals to elderly or ailing people in their homes.

“My mom waited in the car while I went up to deliver the meals,” she wrote. “I tried to be as friendly as possible and talk to the people at their doors. They were so happy to see me and were extremely gracious. A few of them let me come in and talk to them … it means the world to them to see someone my age coming to their homes and talking to them about their week and asking how they’re doing.”

Katie doesn’t find charity difficult.

“It’s simple if you have enough room in your heart to make others happy and to treat others as you would like to be treated,” she wrote.