Two sisters warm hearts, bodies of Scott County residents

Two sisters warm hearts, bodies of Scott County residents

For the last six years, Ashley Martin and her sister, Abbey, have collected coats and blankets to make sure no one in Scott County feels the winter’s chill.

“I talked with my mom and heard about all the people in need,” said Ashley Martin, Scottsburg Middle School seventh-grade student. “That’s mostly how I started it. I felt bad and everything.”

When Ashley Martin was in second grade at Vienna-Finley Elementary School, she spoke with Holly Asdell, school social worker, about starting a coat drive.

“Her mom contacted me stating Ashley was really serious about wanting to help, but she wasn’t sure how to go about it and wondered if I could help ask for donations through the school. Of course, I wanted to help,” Asdell said. “It’s not often that a student comes to me or another adult saying, ‘I want to do something about this; I have to help in some way.’”

Asdell and Ashley Martin created a plan, where they could collect gently-used coats of any size and would take one month’s proceeds of the Friday popcorn sales to donate to the Scott County Clearinghouse. At VFES, the Parent-Teacher Organization pops popcorn on Fridays to sell to students for $1; the money goes toward various local agencies that the students vote for annually. Each year, the students vote to give money toward the Martin sisters’ coat and blanket drive.

“The students really like to help and this is something that they can understand when they donate a coat or buy popcorn, they know that their donation or popcorn money is going directly to helping someone stay warm during the winter,” Asdell said.

Because the coats and money are donated to the Scott County Clearinghouse, the collected coats and the new coats — which are purchased with the popcorn sale proceeds — go to not just any families with students at VFES, but they go to families and individuals throughout Scott County.

“Here at VFES, we teach students about Random Acts of Kindness and how giving to others not only helps other people but also helps you feel better about yourself,” Asdell said. “The students do get excited about the coat drive. They love to participate. When they put their coat in the donation box, you can see the big smile spread across their face.”

When Ashley Martin entered the sixth-grade and started going to Scottsburg Middle School, her sister, Abbey Martin, continued her family’s tradition of collecting coats to donate to the Clearinghouse. But, Abbey added her own spin on the drive this year — she wanted to collect blankets.

“It will make other people happy, and it is fun to give other stuff to other people,” said Abbey Martin, who is a fifth-grade student at VFES.

This year, Abbey Martin collected 26 blankets, 14 pairs of gloves, five hats, and 53 coats. In the six years the Martin sisters have orchestrated the drive, more than $2,000 and more than 400 coats have been collected, Ashley Martin said.

“I plan to carry this on through high school,” Ashley Martin said. “I feel good about it.”

In 2014, Ashley Martin’s efforts were recognized by Mayor Bill Graham and the City of Scottsburg when she won the Mayor’s Good Neighbor Award in the Individual Youth category. The award is given to groups and individuals who dedicate their time and resources to make Scottsburg a better place to live and work.

“I was really excited,” Ashley Martin said about winning the award. “I was up against high schoolers.”

Ashley and Abbey Martin’s dedication to keeping the people of Scott County warm during the winter months embodies the Golden Rule and strong character. At Scott County School District 2, the Martin sisters’ story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.