Gingerbread kids, reassuring message help young artist win Times Free Press gift wrap design competition

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Seven-year old Kariyana Donev is the 2020 winner in the Chattanooga Times Free Press' Lin C. Parker Wrapping Paper Design Contest.

A home-schooled second-grader from Ocoee, Tennessee, has won the 2020 Lin C. Parker Wrapping Paper Design Contest.

Kariyana Donev, 7, drew gingerbread kids, a measuring stick, a cheery red heart and a flurry of snowflakes around a reassuring written message: "6 feet apart but still in my heart."

Along with the design's bright colors, that sweet sentiment, in a year profoundly altered by the coronavirus, "caught the judging panel's attention right away," says Dylan Chesser, special publications designer for the Times Free Press, who spearheaded the contest. "Her message of togetherness, despite physical distance, is a pertinent one, particularly at this time of year."

The message was inspired by a Christmas gift from her home-school directors.

"I got it from an ornament that my friends gave me," says Kariyana, daughter of Dony and Kathryn Donev.