Financial essay winners from Queens

Astoria Federal Savings is helping children think about saving money through an annual essay contest, which had two Queens kids named to the list of the top seven winners.

This marked the fifth year of the contest, which was held in recognition of Financial Literacy Month. Children between the ages of five and 13 had to finish the statement “If I save a lot today, in the future I could…”

Astoria Federal Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing Brian Edwards said that children who save money at an early age have been shown to be more financially responsible as adults. The contest was a way to help them understand the importance of having financial goals and saving money as a way to achieve those goals, he said.

Branches from Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties participated in the contest. More than 1,000 essay submissions were received.

“Each year the essays just seem to get better and better and better,” Edwards said. “It’s really fun to watch.”

One of the top winners was Astoria resident Lauren Della, 7, who submitted her essay to the 30th Avenue branch. She found out about the essay contest when a bank manager came to her school and told them about it. Mom Jackie Hyland said that Della brought home the application and said it was something she’d like to do.

The main use of her savings, she wrote, would be to assist Haiti’s earthquake victims. She would do this by providing them with water, food, clothing, and tents.

“I saw it [Haiti] on the news and I felt bad for Haiti,” Della said, adding that she was happy and surprised to be selected as a winner. She also said that participating in the contest taught her that “if you want to buy something you can save up and buy it and you can help the kids in Haiti.”

Hyland said the family is very excited and proud of Della. She also said they were proud of the concern she showed for others and was happy that she thought of the victims of Haiti. Hyland said she that hopes her daughter learned “that you can do wonderful things if you save your money,” whether it be for yourself, family or those in need.

Another top winner was Rachel Mirokandov, a 12-year-old resident of Forest Hills. She submitted her essay to the Astoria Federal Forest Hills Branch. She also found out about the contest through school, after her principal presented the applications to her classes since the students were good writers.

In her essay, Mirokandov wrote about donating money to hospitals and schools, along with building a shelter for the homeless and a library. She also wanted to use the savings to assist her parents after their hard work. Mirokandov said that, as she thought about what she’d want to do, she decided on helping poor people, children and charities.

“I was really happy and excited,” she said of being selected as a winner, adding that she learned about helping others using money.

Mirokandov and Della each received a U.S. Savings Bond worth $500, a Teach Children to Save Certificate, Education First medal, and a teddy bear.

“Both of them really focused on helping others with the money they would save and I think that’s what made them stand out the most,” Edwards said.

In addition to naming seven top winners, Astoria Federal Savings also selected a local winner at each branch.

Edwards said that Astoria Federal sees things like the essay contest as a way to reach out and strengthen the communities they are in. They are currently working on a teen video contest. To keep updated about their future contests, visit www.astoriafederal.com.