Ribbons come full circle: SL native raising thousands for COVID-19 relief by returning to teen project of 18 years ago

Friday, April 17, 2020

Ashley (Hammen) Hoff finds she’s “not good at not helping.”

And so the Storm Lake native is putting her heart into her ribbons - again.

“Watching others do - whether at work, home, or school - makes me feel uncomfortable. And these past two weeks - I’ve felt uncomfortable. Like I was helpless and watching on the sidelines,” she says. “The feeling was familiar. It was something I felt deeply after 9/11. That day and my discomfort ended up changing my life. 16-year-old small town Iowa me started making and selling ribbons for $1.”

Her effort was on the front page of the Pilot-Tribune back then. It’s back again.

St. Mary’s school allowed young Ashley to carry a shoebox filled with her ribbon making gear from class to class, for months.

“Almost $5,000 later the journey took me to NYC to receive a medal from the NYPD and NYFD, as well as present my check in person to Brooklyn’s Park Slope Squad 1. The moment I stepped off the plane, I thought, ‘This world and the opportunity it holds is far bigger than I thought.’ This little ribbon taught me to start dreaming big and that bravery and kindness can truly change the world.

“When I mentioned this all to my friend, Audra, she replied, ‘Ash, it’s time to bring back the ribbons.’ And you know what - she was absolutely right. In a moment where we are all looking to outwardly show our support for those being affected by this pandemic and help - this very small gesture can unite us.”

Ashley, now an entertainment field professional in Los Angeles - and a survivor of a mass shooting incident in Las Vegas in 2017 - rekindled her teenage skill.

She began making ribbons to be sold for $3 each, with the funds raised to support COVID-19 efforts such as medical facilities, elderly care and small businesses. “Every donated dollar will go to helping those touched by this pandemic.”

Orders in bulk help maximize the fundraising, “but if you buy, we will figure out how to get it to you,” she says. Pending order amounts, she’s planning dropoff-pickup sites around the country, including her hometown of Storm Lake.

Email Ashley at ribbonrelief@gmail.com with orders or questions, or see the website 2020reliefribbons.bigcartel.com. She is accepting Venmo digital payments (@ashleyhoff123), cash or checks. Shipping is $2 per ribbon, $3 for five or more - contact to work out arrangements for 50 or more.

“This may seem like just a small ribbon, y’all, but I know first-hand - from what it means when we all wear to the money raised - it can do big things,” she said of the project.

Her first round of relief ribbons shipped Monday, raising nearly $3,000 in less than a week.

“People are buying to wear, to give to those on the front lines/working essential jobs, and to pay it forward. Each order made and each ribbon worn is the sign of a world changer. Spread this like wildfire - because we’re all in this together.”

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