Grateful for SAL essay winners

in Community/Education

While many have thrown 2020 into the category of worst years in recent memory, there remains plenty for which to be grateful. And we know that by consulting our youth.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Activities League (SAL) recently announced the winning submissions of its recent essay contest ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. First place winner Sierra Lopez, second place winner Arianna Rodriguez, and third place winner Cristina Navarrete, were among the bright youth who reminded us there is much for which to be thankful and hopeful.

The essay contest was judged by a panel consisting of four sheriff’s office employees, one SAL Leader and two others. All essays were numbered and all names were removed so that judges didn’t know who wrote them. Lopez’s submission earned her the prizes of a $200 Safeway gift certificate and SAL pillow; Rodriguez won a $100 Safeway gift card and SAL pillow and Navarrete won a $50 Safeway gift card and SAL pillow.

Kat Petrick, secretary for SAL Board of Directors for over four years, organized and personally funded the contest, which she said was a “complete success.”

“The goal is to provide incentives for our kids and also this gives them an educational experience at the same time,” Petrick said. “The gift certificates will certainly help these families who have been affected by our pandemic with their Thanksgiving meals.”

Petrick said the contest will remain privately funded, using no SAL capital, and Board members have offered to help donate future prizes.

Here are the winning essays:

Sierra Lopez (What I’m thankful for)

Thanksgiving is a great holiday in the year that my family and I love. This year I am thankful for a lot, even during this huge pandemic. This year my family was blessed with a new family member also known as my new baby cousin. The catch is that the new baby is a girl which is very special to me because out of all my cousins and siblings I have been the only girl, but now it’s two beauties in the family. To add on, I am also grateful for how my family hasn’t gotten sick and how all of us are nice and healthy. Now this person that I am about to describe is my grandma from my mom’s side, my grandma is strong, brave and above all she is my hero, she has severe Arthritis which has been with her since she was a kid and Arthritis is painful and she has to deal with it every single day of her life which i’m pretty sure is very hard, so my grandma is what i’m most grateful for in life.

This year for Thanksgiving we are going to have dinner at my grandma’s house which I think is going to be extra special. We are obviously going to make turkey but we are also going to make some Mexican dishes. This year my new baby cousin is coming over for Thanksgiving and her mama loves Mexican dishes so my grandma, my tia, and my mom are going to surprise her with one of her favorite Mexican dishes, enchiladas. I usually help my mom make the turkey which is always delightful. I asked my mom if she can make stuffing because when she makes it delicious and it makes my day. Since my uncle, my tia and new baby cousin Ava are coming this year they are going to stay at my grandparent’s house but someone has to give up their bed so they have somewhere to sleep and by give up mean they are just going to take it away and you have no choice, can you guess who has too, yup it’s me I have to lose my bed which is the only bad part of this year’s Thanksgiving.

In conclusion Thanksgiving is special to us. When I was younger I thought that Thanksgiving was just about eating food which is a very good thought. But Thanksgiving is more than that, it’s a holiday where you give thanks about everything you’re grateful for. And although this massive year of 2020 hasn’t been very good, at the end of the day the best thing in life and what I am grateful for is my big happy family. (Do not worry I will get a new bed)

Arianna Rodriguez (Thanksgiving Family Traditions)

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in which we give thanks, for the blessings we experienced in the previous year. In the Rodriguez household we celebrate our Thanksgiving with many unique customs such as cultural foods, and rituals. We start off by preparing our drinks– ‘ponche, a traditional Mexican fruit punch which consists of rich ingredients such as tamarind, prunes, and hibiscus. To go along with our ponche we eat savory tamales filled with flavorsome beef, pork, and strawberries.

Once our guests start arriving we begin to serve dinner. Tios and Tias, Primos y abuelos gathered around the dining table to accompany us on this glorious day to celebrate. However before we begin our meal we must say a prayer, “Padre Nuestro,” as well as say aloud our many things we are thankful for, that year. I give thanks for mine and my family’s health, our beautiful house, and being able to have the blessing of food on our table every night without a worry. After we feast out it is time for a little dessert. To finish off our night, for dessert are bufiuelos, a Latin fried dough fritter, accompanied by a nice warm hot chocolate.

Cristina Navarrete (What I’m thankful for: Family traditions)

My family, for Thanksgiving, likes to have the “traditional Thanksgiving dinner.” I put that in quotes because everyone has their own traditional dinners but what I am talking about is roasted turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, com, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. My family always celebrates by serving these dishes because being Mexicans in the U.S. make it difficult for us to find something in common with everyone else; however, when it came to talking about what I would eat during the holiday, I would be embarrassed because all the kids would say tamales or pozole, and I would have to say turkey. We don’t have many traditions, but we like to set the table festively and celebrate with my uncle every year, but that was until my other uncle and my uncle’s Sdn came to the U.S. Therefore last year, by far, was my favorite Thanksgiving dinner because my cousin, who had recently come from Mexico, got to celebrate his first Thanksgiving dinner. It made me feel like my family is growing and seeing a full table made my heart fill with happiness. I feel like my family’s most favorite and funniest tradition, well the only real tradition sadly, is that I always have to get the whole turkey leg because when I was little I once got so excited for dinner that I claimed the entire turkey leg for myself. So year after year, they tease me about always having to get the turkey leg or else it won’t feel like we are celebrating. Overall, I love celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and I cannot wait for this year because I have a good feeling it is going to be the best one yet!