‘God put it on my heart:’ 8-year-old boy gives up his Christmas to help others

Published 9:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Most years 8-year-old Ashton Core, from Valley, asks for a big list of presents for Christmas. This year, he asked for something huge, but it wasn’t for himself.

Last October, Ashton told his mother he didn’t want anything for Christmas. Stephanie and Ricky Core were surprised by the news, but then they learned that Ashton had decided to collect supplies for those less fortunate instead of receiving presents for Christmas.

“God put it on my heart,” Ashton said.

Email newsletter signup

Throughout December, the family raised $182 and even more in supplies like deodorant, socks, blankets and snacks. They visited Valley, Lanett, LaGrange and Columbus with 63 bags of supplies. The family ended up helping at least 75 people.

Stephanie and Ricky weren’t surprised by Ashton’s request. They said he has always been a unique child. Stephanie remembered how her pastor once told her that God would do great things through Ashton. 

Ashton’s parents have always been an example to him for showing kindness to those less fortunate. When they realized Ashton was sincere, they supported him wholeheartedly. 

“As a parent, I believe that you have to listen to your kids,” Stephanie said. “We can always learn from them, and I just wanted to be obedient. He tells me God put something on his heart. Who am I to stop him?”

The family began by posting a video on Facebook asking people to donate supplies and money. Ashton asked the community to help make his “dreams come true.” Soon, donations began flowing in. One community member even donated handmade scarves and hats to pass out. 

As more and more people began donating, Stephanie decided to create a nonprofit organization, and Ashton Joy to the World was born.

“We just want to be a blessing to others, and we’re thankful that God chose my son,” Stephanie Core said.

While passing out bags, Ashton met one man who “touched his heart,” according to his mother. An unhoused veteran, Joe, told the family his story. He has been homeless for the past six years and never thought he would end up there. He even showed Ashton an army medal. 

“We just immediately fell in love,” Stephanie said.

After they left, Ashton asked if they could go back to visit “Mr. Joe” again. 

When they got to the end of their bags, Ashton didn’t want to stop. His mother said that for the last few stops, she stayed in the car and watched her son and husband because she was so emotional.

“The fact that my son’s got the heart to really want to help people, it just made me feel good,” Stephanie said.

Ashton has had many opportunities to see small acts of kindness in his parents. Both Stephanie and Ricky make a habit of blessing those less fortunate when they come across them around town. 

“I’m just hoping that my son can be a role model for other kids,” Stephanie said. 

Ashton and his family plan to continue gathering donations and passing them out to people in the community in the new year. Ricky Core said they plan to grill to provide a hot meal to those in need. At the moment, they don’t have a location, but Stephanie and Ricky said Ashton Joy to the World will persevere.

“Even though we don’t have the blueprint on how to do it, we were able to do 63 bags … It was such a success. We just wanted to make sure we did it the right way,” Stephanie said.