Closings and delays

A tiny spark of an idea helps hundreds of local girls

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KING, N.C. -- It all started one night back in September 2013.

"I was standing in my closet, going through clothes I couldn't fit in or that I didn't want. And I thought, 'I really would like these clothes to go to someone who would appreciate them,'" said Ashley Gray, founder of The Beautiful Exchange. "I was thinking small at that point and then I decided maybe it could be something bigger than just a one-time thing and help more people."

The Beautiful Exchange collects gently used clothing for underprivileged girls ages 7-20 years old. So far, over 200 girls have benefitted from the program.

"She just went for it and didn't hold back. She didn't let fear get in the way. I think she really just decided to act from her heart. We're happy to partner with her and help in any way we can," said the Stokes' County Family YMCA's Misty Cummings. YMCA members have filled 6 bins so far with clothes for the program. The next giveaway is May 16. Gray finds the girls in need by calling local churches, shelters and schools.

That's the nuts and bolts of what Ashley's doing. It's the why part that really warms your heart.

"I know what it's like to wear the same pair of pants to school and be made fun of. When a single parent is working hard to put food on the table, getting a new outfit is at the bottom of the list. I appreciate all my mom did for me and want her to know everything she did wasn't in vain. That's why this means so much to me, because I understand what these girls have been through and I want to help them in any way I can," Ashley said.

Her goal is to create a detailed list of how people in other communities can hold their own The Beautiful Exchange giveaway. For more information, email thebeautifulexchangenc@gmail or call (336) 725-0109.