When Ashley McKendrick had to take off work for two weeks after a coworker tested positive for the coronavirus, she decided to put her free time to good use.
The 23-year-old Gilbert, Arizona woman began making hats for premature babies, remembering how she herself had been born prematurely, the Arizona Republic reports.
Ashley, who has physical and mental disabilities, has made 100 hats so far, and she plans to continue her mission through March, according to the report. Her family said she also taught her siblings to make the hats so that they could help her.
Ashley has 23 siblings. She is one of 17 who were adopted by Chris and Kelly McKendrick, the report states. Though Ashley has extra challenges from Goldenhar syndrome, she does not let her disabilities stop her from helping other children in need.
“We have to help them,” she told the local news. “Because people need help!”
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According to the report:
She started a church mission in September, volunteering at three food banks, six days a week.
When a coworker tested positive for COVID-19 in May, Ashley was furloughed for 14 days. Three days in, she was bored. She found a loom she’d received for Christmas and made baby hats.
Her parents said they donated the first batch of hats to premature babies at the Banner Children’s at Desert Medical Center in Mesa.
Each hat included a card, designed by Ashley’s sister Becca, explaining the mission behind them: “I am special because I have Goldenhar Syndrome, have a big family, two silly cats, and was adopted from Taiwan. I love being a service missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hope this hat keeps your baby very warm.”
Ashley’s story, her selflessness and her love for serving others are an inspiration. Not only did she give dozens of premature babies a physical gift, she also gave them the gift of hope by demonstrating how every person, no matter what their background or abilities, can make a difference in the world.