"I have learned that if you put you heart to something YOU can achieve it know matter what others say."
Ashley Highsmith, 15, of Fresno, CA, started Ashley's Blessings, which gives holiday presents to children in local shelters.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Ashley: Giving away Christmas gifts to children in homeless shelters.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Ashley: Ashley's Blessings in California.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefits from this work.
Ashley: Ashley's Blessings is something that I came up with on my own. It gives children in a women and children's center Christmas gifts.
What inspired you to get involved?
Ashley: Life. When I wake up I am truly blessed, I have everything that I need. I am truly grateful for that. I know that many children do not have this and I wanted to share the love with them.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Ashley: I started everything by myself, then my family got involved, and my church got involved. I really felt blessed that they had put so much time into it.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Ashley: The best part of my experience was seeing the smiles on the children and parents' faces! Also, I enjoyed how the children at my church learned to be grateful for what they have!
What is/was the hardest part?
Ashley: Getting people to believe that I was going to do it! Some people thought that I was way too young, and that I would start something and not finish it.
What was the biggest surprise?
Ashley: The biggest surprise was how much support I got! I had calls pouring in! From insurance companies, department stores, neighbors, and family members.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Ashley: I have learned that if you put you heart to something YOU can achieve it know matter what others say. I have changed in the simple fact that I believe that I can do anything I set my mind to.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Ashley: You'll get a new meaning of your life and what you have! It'll open your eyes to the beauty the world has!
© Foundation Center
All Rights Reserved.