When I was with my biological family things were a lot different for me than for most of the other kids my age. I was bathed in the church sink on Sunday morning and the elderly ladies would take turns cooking for some of my siblings and me. People used to leave baskets of food on our front doorstep during school hours so we would find them when we got home in the afternoon. My mom and dad got food from the food bank when they could. We didn't have a car, so sometimes it was difficult to get to the distribution of the food, but when we did it was like Christmas at our house.
Mom used to cry when we younger kids would ask for food after getting home from school when she had nothing to give us. We lived off of junk food because that’s what is cheap at the store and it was all we could afford to buy. I weighed 27 lbs. when I was five years old; my teeth were rotten; and I didn't know any better. We ate out of the cans because we never wanted to wait long enough to heat up the food when we got it. To this day I can still eat cold ravioli and not think twice about it. My parents tried hard to get us food when they could but sometimes it just wasn't feasible. That’s when people started going and getting us food and the food bank really pitched in. Without the community’s help and the food from the food bank, I don't know what would have happened.
Ashley Williams was born in Piggott, Arkansas, in 1992, and was one of nine children in her family. At the age of six, she was adopted by Wade and Candy Williams of Rector, Arkansas.
“My [biological] parents were wonderful people and loved us very much, but they had become disabled due to severe health problems,” she said. “It was hard for them to meet our basic needs and take care of all of us under those circumstances.”
Ashley graduated from Rector High School and is majoring in communication disorders at Arkansas State University, where she’s active in Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
She’s also devoted more than 3,300 hours of her time to community service during the last several years – focusing mainly on poverty and hunger awareness.
“Arkansas is number one in child hunger out of our entire nation,” she said. “That’s a statistic that I want to help change.”