MARTINEZ — Each year, Shell Martinez employees volunteer thousands of hours in our local community. We’ve painted buildings, read to school children, planted gardens, installed irrigation systems and worked at the annual Shell/MEF Run for Education. Community Service can be defined as, “volunteer work intended to help people in a particular area.” We think it is much, much more. 

At Shell, we enjoy working side by side with our coworkers and community members to improve our surroundings. To us, volunteering enables us to be of service and to make a positive difference. It’s a part of Shell’s culture and it makes us…us. 

How about you? What do the words community service and volunteer mean to you? You’ve probably heard about volunteerism or “giving back to the community.” You may have been asked to volunteer before, or you may volunteer on a regular basis. 

In this competition, we challenge you to move beyond the words “volunteer” and “volunteering” and explore what they mean to you. What is the meaning of community service in your own life, in your local community and in the greater world? Why is it important to you and the people around you? We look forward to your thoughts.

Essay requirements vary based on grade level with cash and savings bond prizes ranging from $100 to $2,500.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: What does giving back to your community mean to you?

In your essay, you can choose one of these two perspectives: 

1. Tell how YOU give back to your community OR 

2. Tell the (true) story of someone you have interviewed who gives back to their community. 

Elementary  Why is it important to help others? How does helping others help the world? Give examples by either writing about how you help your community, or how someone you know (or talked to) helps the community.  200-400 Words 
Middle How do you, or the person you interviewed, impact your community and then the world?

400-600 Words

High Choose one of the quotes below to discuss in detail. Give evidence and examples to support your writing. 
  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Gandhi 
  • “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” unknown 
  • “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill 
800-1000 Words

You must show evidence from at least two different sources in your essay. One of these sources should be a primary source, which means interviewing someone who gives back to their community. As an additional resource, a list of local people you can contact for interviews can be found on the MUSD website

Entry deadline is Fri., October 14, 2016. Flyers are available through the Martinez Unified School District main office and all schools.

PRIZES  High School
(Cash Award)
Jr High
(Cash Award)
(Cash Award)

1st prize:

$2,500  $500  $500 
2nd prize:  $1,000  $250  $250 
3rd prize:  $500  $100  $100 


  • All entries should be typed and double spaced
  • Format: Typed documents on 8 ½ x 11 white paper (mailed) or Word Document or PDF format electronic files (emailed).
  • English-language entries only. 


All essays will be initially read and evaluated by a team of dedicated teachers from the Martinez Unified School District. A committee of judges selected from the greater Martinez community will then evaluate finalists. Shell Martinez will not participate in the judging. Immediate family members of the judges will be disqualified from the contest. 


Please include your full name, address, email, grade level and school.

Please email your entries to: OR

Please mail entries to:

Carolyn Cecchi

Shell Essay Contest

Martinez Unified School District All entries must be postmarked by deadline date. 

921 Susana Street 

Martinez, CA 94553 

More About Us

Martinez In the Community

Many of the 700 Refinery employees (and hundreds of retired employees) live in the local area, and participate in a multitude of civic, social, church, and school organizations.

About Shell Martinez Refinery

Located in Martinez, CA, our company refines and markets gasoline and other petroleum products.

Contact Shell Martinez Refinery

Contact Shell Martinez Refinery for further information about the Refinery, including employment opportunities and upcoming events