During a time when much of the nation is in turmoil, the decisive action of one person can uplift spirits and renew hope when it’s needed most.
That’s exactly what 11-year Oakdale fifth grader, Ashleigh Groom set out to do when she started a small personal American flag project.
And, it would seem, she’s succeeding.
Groom, a homeschooler, was talking with her mother, Shenah Groom, about the state of the country and how current events have created a sense of fear and hopelessness.
When her gaze settled on the family’s hanging flag on display in their house, an idea started to form.
“During the most difficult and amazing times in our history, our flag has always stood strong, waving for the bright hopeful future ahead,” she said. “I thought, what a beautiful message it would send to people, if there was a flag displayed on every willing home in my neighborhood for all to see. Whether you are riding your bike, running, walking or just driving through, you would see we are all united and truly in this together.”
Groom wanted to find a way to transform some of the negativity weighing people down and turn it into a message of hope and unity — and the American flag seemed the right way to do it.
With the help of her parents, Groom went to ACE Hardware and shared her vision. They were more than happy to donate 21 American flags to the cause and Groom’s parents donated another 79 to kick-off the fundraiser they called Hope 2020 through the Christian crowdsourcing site, GiveSendGo.
For a $10 donation, anyone can purchase one flag to display at home and all proceeds will go to the purchase and installation of the flags.
They had no idea if the project would be successful but they were going to give it a shot.
The Grooms started by canvasing their own neighborhood and found an unexpected bonus.
“We had no clue how many little kids we had living in our own neighborhood,” Shenah Groom admitted. “Just by going house-to-house, Ashleigh has made so many new friends.”
In this new normal, talking face-to-face with people feels foreign, but the Grooms welcomed the opportunity to actually smile and meet people, in what is now considered, pre-COVID19 social traditions.
Mom Shenah Groom said, the entire experience has been eye-opening in a personal way. Ashleigh discovered she was actually quite shy and talking about her fundraiser with strangers was an opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone.
“I just wanted to do something nice for everyone,” Ashleigh said of her motivation. “I’m really happy that people seem to be happy with it. It makes me feel good.”
Shenah Grooms added, “I feel it’s been pretty successful. Some parents have even reached out to me to ask how they can increase our exposure.”
While mom monitors and manages the social media for the project, Ashleigh does the rest of the work, along with a little help from her little sister, Samantha and her cousin Bianca.
Anyone interested in participating in the flag fundraiser, can go to the Grooms’ Hope 2020 social media pages.
The fundraiser is located at https://www.givesendgo.com/Hope2020