So, instead of getting gifts for herself the Summerside girl asked friends to bring a toy that another child their age would enjoy.
In September, as the little girl was preparing for her swimming party with 15 of her friends, she and her mother, Brenda, decided to do something different.
“When we were asking her before her birthday what she wanted she kept saying ‘I don’t know, I don’t need anything’ and ‘I have all the toys I can play with’,” said Brenda. “I’m involved with the Christmas hamper program at Greenfield (elementary) and I had heard of other children donating the gifts they got for their birthday.”
Mom and daughter discussed several ideas, including asking for monetary donations from party guests to buy a goat for a Third World family, but none were a go.
“She wanted to see what these kids would be getting.”
So, on her birthday party invitation, Ashlyn asked her friends to bring a toy — something for either a boy or a girl — that she would donate at Christmas to help the Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper campaign.
“There was this Hannah Montana Barbie and these little fairy dolls,” said Ashlyn, adding there were at least 15 items collected in total.
Brenda worried once her daughter saw the toys she would have “seller’s remorse”, but Ashyln was determined to donate the items, which were packed away until last week.
Parents of the children invited to the party were surprised by Ashlyn’s idea.
“They thought it was a great thing,” said Brenda. “A lot of people were really surprised that a seven year old would donate their presents. I am still kind of surprised and very happy and very proud of her.”
The toys still sit in the family’s Summerside home.
When asked when she would be dropping them off, Ashlyn quipped, “I better get cracking.”
Marj Montgomery, community and family services co-ordinator with the Summerside Salvation Army, is overwhelmed by the youngster’s selflessness and the kindness other children this holiday season.
“She gave up her birthday presents so that other children that are less fortunate will have gifts. When you look at the thought that went into it, it is unbelievable that they are able to see the concept of what we, as adults, do,” said Montgomery. “When you look at this generation that is coming up they are aware of what is going on in their community. That will lead into caring adults.”
Ashlyn didn’t go home empty handed on her birthday, having received presents during a family birthday party.
She and her mother both say the selfless act is something they’ll do again.
Ashyln is happy that she is helping make Christmas morning brighter for other children who may not have as much as her.
“I’m going to be excited for them. I wish I could see their face.”