Despite the challenges resulting from COVID-19, WoodmenLife remains committed to connecting families, giving back to local communities and celebrating our country. Social distancing has changed how we accomplish these goals, and we’re committed to find new solutions in support of our mission. This summer, one of these solutions was inviting WoodmenLife families and the public to connect from afar and compete for cash prizes in the WoodmenLife Patriotic Chalk Challenge. We received chalk art entries from around the country, displaying love of America in unique and creative ways.
As part of their prize, the top three winners of the WoodmenLife Patriotic Chalk Challenge had the chance to donate to a charity of their choice. One of these winners, Lizzi Elliott, wanted her artwork to include her baby girl. “We waited a long time to adopt her, and we are making as many memories with her as possible, and this seemed like it would be a unique one! We never expected to win, so that is just an added bonus to the experience!” she said.
Elliott worked with her mom and brother over FaceTime to complete her piece. “We decided together to make everything look like balloons that my little girl was holding,” she said. “This was a fun experience and such an easy way to get family (even though we live 90 minutes away) working together on a project!”
For her charity, Elliott chose Judd’s Legacy, an organization raising awareness about Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy. “I wanted to choose a charity that may not have as much publicity as others to help get its mission out to more people,” Elliott said. “I hope that people will look up Judd’s Legacy, read their story and help spread awareness!”
A second winner, Karlee Kates, entered the contest because “it was a great opportunity to get outside, enjoy the sun and do something that I love.” She spent about an hour a day over the course of four days creating her masterpiece. She chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as her designated charity.
“It has a special place in my heart,” she said. “My dad (who is now cancer free) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 18. He is a major inspiration in my life, and I hope to help not only improve the quality of life for patients like him but also help to find a cure.”
The final winner, Brittany Rees, learned about the contest through Facebook and from several family members. “My 7-year-old, Ashby, loves to draw with chalk; we have done several drawings since they’ve been out of school,” she said.
Rees and her daughter were inspired by the 4th of July when creating their entry together. ”I wanted to use all the states; Ashby wanted to add the eagle and fireworks,” she said. The pair enjoyed getting the chance to do what they love and share their creation with others.
For the charity donation portion of her prize, Rees chose Sprinkles of Hope Inc. “It’s a local nonprofit that gives kids with disabilities an opportunity to join the workforce and they are very good at what they do,” she said.
Each artist shared their thoughts on their chalk work. Please take a moment to enjoy these sentiments and the amazingly talented pieces they submitted:
“Floating for Freedom” by Lizzi Elliott, Lancaster, SC
“Baby girl is celebrating her first Independence Day! She is soaring through her first year experiencing all life has to offer since being adopted. The balloons of freedom she is holding represent her freedom to explore and live life to the fullest. She loves America and all it has to offer!”
“Independence” by Karlee Kates, Riverside, CA
“My chalk image represents the beauty, strength and independence of the United States through the symbolic use of the American Bald Eagle and the flag of the United States.”
“God Bless America and Freedom!” by Brittany Rees, Brooksville, KY
“The entire US as a flag protected by the eagle and God!”
The following winners rounded out the top 15 finalists in the WoodmenLife Patriotic Chalk Challenge:
“Celebrate America” by Crystal Bartelt, Chesterfeld, VA
“Things may be a little different this 4th of July, but we still have faith in God. Today we celebrate in our home with the ones we love the most.”
“Beauty of America” by the Cozad Family, Omaha, NE
“The beauty of our part of the country, the Heartland. We included a corn field and barn to represent farmers, who are heroes in helping to feed the world. An American flag, the majestic eagle and celebratory fireworks encompass America and all its glory!”
“Eagle and Flag” by Kayla Goodfellow, New Bern, NC
“The two symbols of America, the national flag and the bald eagle, are immediately recognizable as distinctly American. The flag is representative of the original colonies from the beginning to the states that now make up our union. The eagle’s majestic flight and bold nature represent the free spirit, energy and boldness so prevalent in the history of this nation.”
“We the People” by Kristen Goodfellow, New Bern, NC
“Representing the founding documents that hold so much value and substance to the strength and resilience for our nation, and the eagle’s bold and free spirit overlooking our national flag signify oversight of the people over government and government’s promise to exist for the good of its citizens.”
“Home of the Free Because of the Brave” by Elizabeth Hodges, Julian, NE
“I freehanded this with sidewalk chalk on the concrete pad in front of the Fire Station in my small community of 55. We have one of the most active Volunteer Fire Departments in Southeast Nebraska. Many of these trained volunteers are Military Veterans. WoodmenLife Chapter 29 donated a flag pole and flag that is proudly and properly waved at the Fire Station.”
“Land of the Free” by Ria Huckeby, Ada, OK
“Our daughter, Glory, is the artist of the chalk drawing. It is an eagle with lettering that says, ‘Land of the Free.’ She did this chalk drawing in our driveway during a heat wave, after a Saharan dust storm and prior to thunderstorms. We took the picture as soon as she completed it! It was fun to do especially during this pandemic. As a family, we have been able to have many discussions due to being together at home during the past few months. Our lives have changed drastically as we have taken strict precautions, having family members that are high risk. Chalk art has always been a fun activity for us, but it has taken on a new importance during this time. When a friend told us about submitting patriotic chalk art, we were all in! Discussing our freedoms as Americans, learning from our past and current events, teaching our daughters more deeply about the United States of America are vital actions we have taken as parents. While Glory designed and created the art, we as a family, supported her and carried on with our discussions that the art prompted. We are grateful to live freely as Americans where everyone is living their life through their own belief systems. Our country is a beautiful place to be with all the different people blended together. We are free to be ourselves in America!”
“Uncle Sam’s New Message” by Amanda McGovern, Omaha, NE
“Independence Day celebrations will look a little different this year. It is our duty as Americans to do our part and help keep each other safe.”
“Liberty and Justice” by Shannon Mechels-Struby, La Vista, NE
“Incorporating the flag, pledge of allegiance and the battle for equality, this piece reflects what our forefathers envisioned as well as the fight that is currently going on in our country.”
“Let Freedom Ring” by Brad McNew, Mt. Vernon, KY
“Cannon blasting to freedom!”
“2020 Independence Day” by Angelica Rivas, Murphy, TX
“2020 Covid Fourth of July. American Flag, Statue of Liberty.”
“God Bless America” by Mallory Smithson, Northport, AL
“Although we find ourselves living in difficult times these days, we are still a very blessed country. It’s my prayer that God will continue to bless our country for my children (pictured) and for generations to come.”
“Salute of Liberty” by Valerie Williams, Sophia, NC
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