17-year-old Ashley Yong saved up for her senior prom but, ultimately, decided not to go. Instead, the Chicago-area teen spent the money she saved up for one glamorous night on things that would make a lasting difference for the homeless people in her community. And, after seeing how much difference the money she saved could make, now this Mighty Girl has bigger plans in the works to help even morepeople!
Ashley knew that her dad wasn’t going to pay for her prom, so she had been saving on her own for the high-cost event that, on average, costs prom-goers in the US $1,000. But after spending hours on Pinterest looking for hair, makeup, and dress ideas, she had a revelation: “After a while, I realized what I was doing was pretty vain and self-absorbed. I was so consumed in figuring out how to make one night the best night of my life.”
So Ashley took a look at those less fortunate around her, and realized that her savings could make a big difference for homeless people in her community. She spent nearly all of her $250 in savings on items like socks, food and toothbrushes, packed them in boxes, and distributed them in person the day after prom. Ashley says that she was initially sad seeing pictures of her friends at prom without her, but seeing the looks on people’s faces as they opened her boxes of donations changed everything. One encounter in particular stood out, a woman and her children: “Her smile said it all, and my heart burst with happiness,” Ashley said. “As my dad and I drove away from the children excitedly rummaging through the boxes, I started crying. I told my dad I couldn’t believe how blessed we were.”
Although most of her classmates were supportive, a few were critical, arguing that she did it for attention. Ashley’s response is that they are right — she did do it for attention but not for her herself. She filmed her project because she wanted to raise awareness of local homelessness and show people how easy it to help: “I’m a high schooler with no job, car or really anything I own to sustain myself. Giving isn’t hard, and it most definitely is not impossible.”
Ashley now plans to repeat her efforts on a larger scale, using funds from a GoFundMe campaign, which has already raised over $1,400. She also hopes in future to create a non-profit dedicated to helping homeless people. “I want to get involved in the cause for which I am advocating giving my own time and work, not just my money,” she says. “It’s the experiences you have hands-on volunteering and meeting people that make you a better person, not putting money into a cup.”
To watch Ashley’s project video and support her GoFundMe campaign, visit http://www.gofundme.com/t9hxy2tc
For several excellent books to talk to children about the challenges faced by others in need, we recommend “Maddi’s Fridge” for ages 4 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/maddi-s-fridge), “Hold Fast” for ages 8 to 12 (http://www.amightygirl.com/hold-fast), and “Also Known As Harper” for ages 9 to 12 (http://www.amightygirl.com/also-known-as-harper).
To show children how one act of kindness can bloom into something much greater, we recommend “Plant a Kiss” for ages 2 to 8 at http://www.amightygirl.com/plant-a-kiss
For more Mighty Girl stories for all ages that emphasize the value of compassion, visit our “Kindness & Compassion” section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/personal-development/values?cat=223
And, for a wonderful way to make giving to those in need a regular part of your child’s life, we recommend a divided piggy bank that includes a separate chamber for charitable donations — two of our favorites are the Moonjar Moneybox at (http://www.amightygirl.com/moonjar-classic) and the Money Savvy Pig (http://www.amightygirl.com/money-savvy-pig).