Kid of the Month
Amazing Kid of the Month!
Article quoted from Amazing Kids. Read Original Article
Amazing Kid! of the Month for October, 2008:
Amazing Ashlee Smith, Founder, Ashlee’s Toy Closet; Reno, Nevada
Quotes of the Month
“The more children help, the better the world will be. Every person can make a difference.”
”“I want to help the little victims in a big way.”
Ashlee Smith, Age 9
Founder, Ashlee’s Toy Closet
Our October 2008 Amazing Kid! of the Month:
At the age of 8, Ashlee Smith of Reno, Nevada heard about the Angora fire in neighboring California, she knew she had to do something for the little victims of the disaster…especially since she and her family had had first-hand experience previously as victims of a house fire themselves.
“Everyone helps the adults but no one helps the children.” she says. As a result, Ashlee started a non-profit organization called Ashlee’s Toy Closet to help children affected by disasters.
Since then, she has helped thousands of kids affected by fires, floods and other disasters in the region and beyond. Read more about Ashlee below and be inspired to help collect toys for Ashlee’s Toy Closet, or to help kids in need in your community!
Meet Amazing Ashlee
When Ashlee Smith’s father, a firefighter, was battling the Angora fire that devastated South Lake Tahoe, California in 2007, she wanted to help. But her idea for helping was different from the way people have traditionally helped fire victims in the past, something she knew from first-hand experience.
“Everyone helps the adults, no one helps the children,” Ashlee explains. She could empathize with the youngest victims of the disaster because she had herself lost all her toys in a house fire in 2005. After the fire, she was forced to get rid of everything in her room. She never really said anything to anyone at the time, but Ashlee knew she had to do something for the victims of Angora fire. “I know what those kids feel like and I need to help them,” she told her mother.
Even as Ashlee started collecting new toys and gift cards for the victims of the devastating wild fire, her mother, Ericka, was skeptical. “I thought toys were the last thing these kids needed. But, wow, was she right, when you look at it from a kids point of view,” Ericka admits.
And thus, Ashlee’s Toy Closet was born.
A collection site–a school gym!- for thousands of donated
toys for Ashlee’s Toy Closet
Helping The Littlest Survivors Smile Again
Ashlee donating stuffed animals to Special Kids Rodeo
during 2008 Reno Rodeo
Amazing Ashlee posing with two children
after they selected their toys from Ashlee’s Toy Closet
Soon after, Ashlee started collecting toys for children affected by other natural disasters. In July of 2008, she delivered thousands of toys to children devastated by wildfires that raced through the hills of Chico and Concow in California. Recently, she gave toys to a 7 year old boy who lost his home when a fire ravaged his neighborhood in Reno, Nevada.
Ashlee makes sure that the toys that these kids receive are not just any toys, but their favorite ones. “That is why I have an account; I can use the money to buy something specific just for kids like him,“ Ashlee emphasizes.
She thinks of her parents as her biggest mentors. “Mom and Dad help me with well…everything,” Ashlee tells us. She really looks up to her dad. “Dad’s job is done when the fire is out, but my job begins right after that.” she explains.
Ashlee’s Awards and Future Plans
Not surprisingly, Ashlee’s Toy Closet has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the amazing amount of energy Ashlee pours into her project to make it successful. In 2008, Ashlee earned the ‘Red Cross Youth Real Hero’s Award’ for her “endless dedication to helping children.” Also in 2008, she received the ‘Outstanding Northern Nevada Youth Heroes Award’ and ‘Kohl’s Kids Who Care’ scholarship and was featured in People Magazine.
When she is not collecting and distributing toys for young fire victims, Ashlee loves school, rodeo and helping others. Her goals include becoming a vet and a barrel racer.
As far as Ashlee’s Toy Closet is concerned, Ashlee has big plans in mind for her organization’s future. Extremely dedicated to her mission of helping children who have been affected by disasters, Ashlee wants her organization to grow so that she can help children in other communities and states as well. She wants to take Ashlee’s Toy Closet to the national level and be able to help each and every child that suffers a disaster.
“You do not have to be an adult to make a difference and you never know until you try,” she says.
Thank you for the important reminder that anyone can make a difference, Ashlee. You are an inspiration to us all! Keep up the amazing work!