It all started on a routine trip to the grocery store.
Six-year-old Ashley looked up at her dad, Jeff, as he pushed the cart down the aisle and said, “I want to sell hot chocolate.” Jeff figured that Ashley was probably inspired by their past garage sales, where she sold her toys and stuffed animals. He imagined she would want to use her earnings for art supplies or science projects. Instead, Ashley told him, “I want to buy presents for the homeless.”
That day, Ashley and her dad returned from the store, bags brimming with hot chocolate mix and marshmallows. Ashley’s mom, Michelle, eyed the bags with a questioning look. But when they told her about Ashley’s plan to sell hot chocolate for the homeless, she was all in. They sat down and got to work.
In Ashley’s first year of Hot Choklit for the Homeless, she set up a hot chocolate stand in front of her home and raised over $200—enough for 18 care packages for homeless people in her community.
Last year, Ashley’s parents helped her set up a GoFundMe to supplement the earnings from her stand. The GoFundMe alone raised $480, more than double the year before.
Earlier that year in March, Ashley even pledged her birthday to a local animal shelter and asked that all her guests make donations instead of giving her gifts.
Whatever the cause, Ashley wanted to help. And it bothered her that she wasn’t able to volunteer like older kids. After her mom returned from helping out at a local food bank, Ashley said that she wanted to help, too. When she learned that she had to be over 14 to volunteer, she protested, “But that’s not fair. Kids can help! I’m a great helper, and my friends are, too.”
That day, Ashley’s organization Small Hands with Helping Hearts was born.
S3H has led beach cleanups, organized volunteer opportunities at a transitional housing facility, and even founded a community garden benefitting the local homeless community.
All of this is led by kids, or “Small Hands.” Anyone with questions must defer to a Small Hand, but “Big Hands” are more than welcome to drive Small Hands around, fill out paperwork, and provide snacks.
It’s a kids’ world at S3H, and every day, Ashley proves that anyone can give back—no matter your age.
Her parents, Michelle and Jeff, couldn’t be prouder of Ashley and the effect this journey has had on her: “When Ashley sees her ideas be successful and supported by her community, it makes her want to think bigger. A little support goes a long way—for kids, especially. This experience has given her a platform and an extra boost of confidence that lets her know that she can make a difference.”