June's time to care winner.
News 12 at 6 o'clock, June 2, 2010
GROVETOWN, Ga.---Our Time to Care Award winner for June is a local student with a heart for helping others. She loves spending time with our troops, volunteering at the rescue mission and walking for a cancer cure. And all of this is even more impressive when you consider this: Ashley Wethal is only eight years old.
It looked like a fire drill at Lewiston Elementary in Grovetown. But the principal pulled every third grader outside so we could surprise one of them.
Ashley Wethal is a pretty amazing kid. At an age where most children focus on what others can do for them, Ashley looks for ways she can help others.
"And I just felt really bad, so I just decided to help the community," she said.
It might be helping honor members of the military at her church. It might be raising money and walking in the Columbia County Relay For Life. Or it might be serving a meal and collecting coats for the Garden City rescue mission.
News 12: "Can a little kid really make a difference in the community?"
News 12: "You think so?"
Ashley's mom Jeanine knows she's raising a little girl with a big heart.
"With Ashley, it's been very easy because she's been willing to help in the community no matter what it is," Jeanine says. "She's not a kid who says, 'Aww mom, not again.' She always says, 'Can I do this?'"
Ashley's dad Chris is pretty proud too.
"I couldn't be more proud of my daughter," Chris said. "She makes me proud every day. She's got a heart of gold and she's always the first one to help," Chris says.
And Cherry Kelly, Ashley's "Mema", almost came to tears talking about serving the poor at the Rescue Mission.
"At first she was very fearful," Cherry remembered. "And after we had served them she goes, 'They're just like me.'"
All of this attention comes as a big surprise to Ashley.
News 12: "Are you surprised?"
News 12: "You didn't know this was going to happen today?"
Ashley, laughing: "No."
And if Ashley has her way, her giving will be contagious. We started asking for ideas about other ways kids can get involved, and the hands shot up.
Her teacher, Laura Brooks, says it's just the way Ashley is: "She's been volunteering all year long."
Brooks says there's a great lesson here for kids everywhere. "It doesn't matter the age, they can make a difference, and it's the small differences that add up to the big differences."
And remember, all this is from an eight-year-old girl. No telling what she'll do when she's nine.
And of course, we want to thank our Time To Care partners who make this award possible: Subway, Troy University and Ashley Furniture. If you want to nominate someone for our Time To Care Award, you can do that right here.