Ashley’s Little Angels, a non-profit organization, provided food and clothing, and also filled special gift requests for more than 750 children and 250 families this year in Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The organization raised more than $180,000 in 2011 and about $750,000 since 1997, benefiting thousands of children during that time. Ashley Furniture has contributed nearly half that amount.
In its fifth year in Wisconsin, the non-profit organization served 160 children in eight Trempealeau County school districts. Items were delivered to different pick-up sites in an Ashley semi-truck and 53 foot trailer.
About 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.
Cathie Ferguson, one of the founding members of this charity, further explained, “There is a need and a challenge to those of us who can and are willing to help. In some of the worst economic times, I’m overwhelmed at the generosity of the many people who are willing to reach out and lend a helping hand to those less fortunate.”
The process is kept completely confidential. Volunteers see only the child’s age, gender, clothing sizes and wish lists. K-12 school guidance counselors and school district nurses initiate the process by selecting children that they feel could use a little extra financial help. If the family accepts, they are asked to fill out a family information form. This decision has the potential to have a positive effect on other members of the child’s family, as well. When one family member is selected, all other children in that family are also provided for. Each child receives four outfits of clothing, socks, underwear, shoes and a coat, if requested. They are also given the opportunity to submit a special gift request. In addition, Ashley’s Little Angels provides each family with a food basket.
“We have a fun group of volunteers each year that help with these fundraisers and we always welcome additional volunteers who would like to assist in the future. People find it easy to identify with our cause because it’s all about the children every Christmas,” said Tom Qualman, a volunteer in Wisconsin.
“The goalof Ashley’s Little Angels is to help families have a better Christmas experience. We are proud supporters of this organization’s efforts,” said Todd Wanek, President and CEO of Ashley Furniture Industries.Wanek added, “I am continually impressed with the amount of effort put forth by volunteers and the number of children whose lives are touched each year.”