How a California teen's essay won her family the gift of warmth before Christmas

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Reedley student surprised with heating unit for family after winning essay contest

Christmas came early for an eighth grader in Reedley, California, and the surprise she got is lasting well beyond the holidays.

Hannah Gregory, 14, plays the flute in the T.L. Reed school advanced band. The concert finale featured the surprise announcement that Hannah won an essay contest that's bringing her family heat for the holidays.

"It's been really cold in the winters and really hot in the summer, but we've been trying to make it work for a while now," Hannah said.

The contest put on by Jack's Refrigeration asked middle schoolers in several districts in the area to write 1,000 words on why their family deserves a new heating and cooling system.

The 4.0 student athlete and musician described how hard her parents work to provide for their two children but they've been without heat or air conditioning for several years.

"I'm just really proud Hannah had the desire to write so kindly and wonderfully about her family," said Renee Delport, Kings Canyon Unified School District.
"She has a big heart. She's super thoughtful," said Mike Gregory, Hannah's father.

On a single income, the family of four did their best to save -- but unexpected expenses would derail plans for a new unit.

Hannah describes stacking blankets on her bed at night and wearing jackets in the house to keep warm in the winter -- and running fans to keep the house cool during the summer.

"It's just a huge weight off our shoulders knowing we don't have to set aside for that," said Nicole Gregory, Hannah's mother.

As for what Hannah is most looking forward to this holiday season, "It's going to be great now, having Christmas be warm," she said.

The family receives their new unit this Thursday.
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