Living united isn’t as hard as it sounds.

That’s what we discovered when the Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Star Tribune asked local elementary students how they put those words into action.

Hundreds of students in grades three through five from across the metro area wrote essays about how they make a difference by doing things like standing up to bullys, celebrating their differences, donating gloves to a homeless person or Halloween costumes to kids without them.

These simple, everyday acts aren’t heroic — they’re something even better: caring.

As Kaija Kunze-Hoeg, our first-place winner said, “ … just being involved can have a big impact.”

For her essay, Kaija will receive a $500 Visa gift card from U.S. Bancorp. The nine runners-up — Holden Scott, Ella Passe, Joey Khoury, Jaiden Williams, Trevor Piehl, Lydia Schmitz, Themi Megas, Carson Berlin and Yones Mahamed — will each receive a $100 Visa gift card.