Jackson Middle School student collecting Christmas gifts for children in foster care

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VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - Ashlen Martin is an eighth grader at Jackson Middle School and she started a toy drive for kids in foster care six years ago.

“The children in the foster care homes don’t usually have Christmas presents to open on Christmas day and I’m trying to raise as many gifts as I can to give to them on Christmas day,” said Martin.

This all started when Martin turned eight years old.

“I received a lot of birthday gifts that I didn’t really need so I decided to give back to people who needed them more than me,” said Martin.

For the last few years, Martin had her friends bring an unwrapped present to her birthday to later give to the Wood County Department of Health and Human Resources.

“As I grew up I decided to do this every single year to give back to children who need Christmas presents more than me. And I decided to try and raise as many presents as I can. And I try to beat the record every year,” said Martin.

Last year’s record was 530 toys, but this year the goal is 600.

“The reason why I’m trying to raise more this year is because of the mold. There was mold in the DHHR and all the toys were affected by the mold. They had to throw it out. So I’m trying to push the goal even further so I can raise more to replace all of those gifts,” said Martin.

Instead of throwing a birthday party, this year Martin is going business to business and person to person for donations. She hopes to give about 2 gifts per child in foster care this holiday season.

To donate, you can call Martin's mother at 304-615-7197.

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