Ana McIntosh’s depiction of a majestic bald eagle has soared to Kansas City, Mo., where it’s in contention for a $10,000 scholarship award. The Atlantic Coast High School senior took first place in the state in the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest sponsored by the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary. Her acrylic painting, called “Pursuit of Freedom,” is being judged at the national level in Kansas City against entries from every state and the District of Columbia.


The contest combines artistic talent with patriotic vision. Students must attach a “meaningful message” explaining their entry, according to the website. McIntosh called the eagle the noble symbol of American strength, courage and beauty.

“As the eagle breaks forth from the surrounding rocks, he embodies the continual pursuit of freedom characteristic of America,” she wrote. “The confidence and vitality expressed through the eagle’s unrestrained nature is a beacon to individuals. We are asked to exhibit the same boldness in fulfilling our duties as proud citizens to preserve the spirit of America.”

Her teacher, Kelly Delaney, describes her as “very talented” and her statement as a strong one.

The national winner receives $10,000 and is invited with a parent to the Ladies Auxiliary national convention in July in St. Louis. There are lesser cash awards up to eighth place. McIntosh will attend the University of Florida in the fall to study architecture.

Here’s more good news:

■ It’s called the Oxygen Ball, and it breathed the gift of $147,000 into the coffers of the American Lung Association. Money raised at the 18th annual gala goes to research, education and advocacy efforts in Northeast Florida. Margaret Johnson, a physician at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, received the Volunteer of the Year award for her work on lung cancer research and CT screenings. Peter and Elizabeth Lewin were honorary chairs and the event at TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse was presented by BBVA Compass. The ball raised $27,000 to send Northeast Florida youths to asthma camp.

■ These kids got to hear the hoot of an owl, touch an armadillo’s armor-like shell and lock eyes with an alligator. JP Morgan Chase recently brought a taste of the Jacksonville Zoo to members of the Beaches Boys & Girls Club as part of the financial institution’s Zoo to You program. The zoo’s educator talked about where the animals live in the Jacksonville area, and to the children about what they could do to protect their habitats, a news release said.

■ The Gate Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Gate Petroleum, has donated $61,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities. House-shaped paper icons were sold during a recent three-week campaign at Gate stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky.

■ Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has awarded $25,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project to help support the 20 free programs and services that it offers to military members and their families. Firehouse restaurants recycled 5-gallon pickle buckets that they sold to customers for $2. Spare change also was collected in canisters on register counters, and customers had the option of rounding up their bill to the nearest dollar.

■ Ashley Furniture HomeStores recently donated free beds to needy Jacksonville-area children as part of its “A Hope to Dream” program. For some, it was their first bed. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, his wife, Michaela, and their four children were on hand for the first delivery at the home of Betty and Billy Rodgers. The Rodgers are foster parents to three children, ages 7, 4 and 3. The Jaguars are partners in the program.

Following that delivery, three other families, who wished to remain anonymous, received beds. The families are nominated by friends, family and social service agencies. Nominations can be submitted at an Ashley store or online at


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