Hannah’s Happy Feet
by Cate Murway

It was the sixth day of June, and ordinarily that date only marked one thing for the Ashford family...Hannah Emily’s birthday. Most children look forward to their birthday with the eager anticipation of tearing open gifts in a joyful frenzy. But Hannah‘s idea for her day was to do something really different, something innovative and cool for her 9th birthday party, in lieu of traditional gifts. This year the Snyder-Girotti Elementary School fourth grader requested shoes — lots of them, not for her, but for other children. Her gifts would be donated to youngsters who just may not have great shoes in which to run and play. Awesome, right?
This charismatic, compassionate, honor roll student with her simple request, asking all of her friends and family members to consider helping her make her only birthday wish come true, also seems to be on the track to be one of the next great leaders.
“I have enough toys. Let’s ask them to bring shoes.”
Mary Gesualdi, the Title 1 Coordinator and Reading Olympics Coordinator, shared, “As a 3rd grader, Hannah participated with the team, avidly preparing for their opportunity to take part in the Reading Olympics competition. She voluntarily stayed after school for eight Mondays to read the chosen books, above and beyond her regular class work and homework assignments. ” 
The Reading Olympics engages fifth through eighth graders from public, parochial, charter, independent and after school programs in this reading competition. Hannah is inspired to read for pleasure while learning the value of teamwork at the same time. Readers are leaders. 
“She also shared her singing talent at the Black History Talent Showcase and performed at the local Senior Centers. She is certainly giving back to the community in a number of different ways.”
Hannah sang "Should've Said No", a Taylor Swift song. “I really liked the music.”

Thomas William, BHS ’95 and Kellie Lynn [Kovacs] Ashford are obviously very proud of their daughter, a friendly and adventurous only child.
Hannah’s paternal grandmother Kathleen “Kathy” Miller is also a BHS graduate.
Hannah’s father recently accepted a new position printing pharmaceutical labels at The Nosco On_Demand Solutions Center and her mother is the office manager at an automated bakery in Bensalem.
What are Hannah’s future aspirations? “I want to be a singer and I like to paint. I just sing in my room.”
Basketball is currently her sport of choice and “she’s very good at dribbling, a good shooter and great at defense” according to her dad. 
The summer of 2014 looks quite busy for Hannah. Dance Camp and Cooking Camp at the local Y, as well as hiking adventures with her family throughout Tyler State Park, are in the plans.

It was a neighbor and friend who suggested a “Spotlight” for Hannah.
Per Jayne McPherson-Young, “I am impressed. It is quite moving that Hannah thought of others who may not have what she is fortunate to have.  Her selflessness, generosity, and consideration will be an inspiration to other children.”
What made Hannah think of doing this? “I saw a program on the Disney Channel about a girl collecting shoes.” Hannah’s favorite shoes are sneakers. “I wanted to do that!”
Her father set her scheme in motion by posting an invitation to their neighbors and family on face book.
“The name of the organization Hannah is donating the shoes to is Children's Home Society of New Jersey located on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Morrisville. All she did was ask, and people just gave.”
The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk infants, children, youth, and families achieve their potential. Many of their programs receive no government funding, so contributions from private sources are critical for them to maintain their services. Founded in 1894, The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

About 25 people came to celebrate and wish Hannah “happy birthday”, and close to 20 pairs of shoes were donated to help her with her birthday project.
 "It makes me feel happy to make other kids feel happy and they have shoes because of me," Hannah said. They kept the shoes in boxes and packed plastic bags to drop them off at CHSofNJ.

Like most areas of life, parents have a direct influence on the outcome through their own example.
Research shows that our children are born with the marvelous gift to care and be concerned about others but unless those virtues are nurtured, they will lie dormant. 
The Ashfords are making sure that they are living out the message they want their daughter to learn!
Real giving means “no strings attached.”
Team work makes the dream work. 
When the community, schools and parents come together, EVERYONE WINS!
Kids like this just make you want to be a better person.

Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

Hannah Ashford with her parents