When school was out of session in mid-April, Pulaski Middle School teacher Ashleigh Wilson and her daughter, Emma, traded in their schoolwork for charitable work during a week-long visit to Ethiopia.
The trip was the culmination of several fundraising initiatives conducted in the Pulaski Academy and Central School District to benefit African HIV Orphans: Project Embrace (AHOPE). The organization began as a hospice facility for children dying of AIDS. Today, AHOPE offers housing, job training, life skills and basic necessities to the orphans it serves.
“We always knew that AHOPE was a great organization,” Wilson said. “But to actually see the work they do is remarkable. AHOPE has such a far-reaching impact.”
Wilson and Emma witnessed that impact first hand during their visit to Ethiopia this spring, and while they were just two people who physically made the journey across the globe, they noted that they didn’t do it alone.
The entire Pulaski community played a significant role in their charitable efforts, donating blankets, bracelets, personal hygiene items, toys, school supplies and other goods.
“We had 200 pounds worth of stuff … our school has always been very supportive, but this went beyond what we could have imagined,” Wilson said. “We brought enough blankets for essentially the entire orphanage.”
For Wilson, one of the greatest parts of the trip was watching as her daughter, a 6-year-old kindergartner at Lura Sharp Elementary School, experienced the joy of giving to people in need.
“I was so proud of her, she immersed herself in everything and really embraced the experience,” Wilson said. “The trip far exceeded our expectations and we couldn’t have done it without the support of PACS and the community.”