HARRISONBURG — Anish Aradhey spent a long time brainstorming concepts he wanted to convey before putting pencil to paper for his submission to the student Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign art contest.

It’s an art contest that the then-Skyline Middle School eighth-grader was familiar with. He had placed second in the middle school category the year before. But he had his sights set on an even grander prize when he entered last year.

The theme of the contest this year was “Virginia is for givers,” Anish said.

“I spent a lot of time coming up with a concept,” said Anish, now a Harrisonburg High School freshman. “A strong concept is what connects people.”

It was announced earlier this month that Anish was the best in show grand prize winner, meaning his work will be featured on a campaign poster for the 2019 Workforce Giving Campaign.

On Oct. 2, Gov. Ralph Northam kicked off the start of the 22nd annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign for state employee workforce giving, which raised $2.7 million in donations last year and benefited more than 1,000 participating charities, according to a press release.

State employees’ giving has impacted the lives of many children, adults, and veterans, including those in need of permanent housing and food security, the release says.

Charitable donations have also provided resources to programs that help animals and work to protect the environment.

As part of the campaign, art designs are solicited at the elementary, middle and high school level to be used on promotional materials.

Anish’s design, which featured a gift box from which emanates butterflies, dogwoods, cardinals and other Virginia flora and fauna, will be used for this year’s giving campaign.

Anish said art became a big part of his life while a middle school student. He said it’s important for him to have a creative element in his life for balance.

Anish and his father attended an award ceremony in Richmond last week.

“It means a lot to me because I know what this theme means to myself,” Anish said of the “Virginia is for givers” theme. “But the fact that it grew to mean something to other people, that means a lot.”

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or mwilliams@dnronline.com. Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

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