Alexandria, VA – Josephine Martin has learned at a young age that you have to make people feel good if they’re going to contribute to a cause. The fourth grader at George Mason Elementary School was recognized by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for raising nearly $10,000 for her church’s identification ministry, which helps homeless and other folks who face barriers in getting their personal documentation in Washington, DC. How did Martin do it? She started three years ago – in the first grade – with a hot cocoa stand.
“This all started in first grade when my mom was driving me home from ballet, and I realized, hey, I want to do something. I want to help people,” Martin told the audience at the City Council meeting. “And then I got the idea – I’ll do something new. I’ll do a hot cocoa stand.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said that Martin would have a seat on city council before too long.
“We are very grateful for the work that you have done and the initiative you have shown identifying a problem in your community and raising significant resources to address that problem,” Wilson told Martin. “You are doing some amazing things at a very, very young age, and I’m incredibly impressed.”
Martin said that the project really got off the ground after her mom started a fundraiser page on Facebook. She raised $402 her first year, more than $1,200 the second year, $3,400 the third year, and $4,250 this year. She sold each cup of cocoa for 50 cents.
“In DC it’s very hard for people to get documents, especially when they’re homeless, when they have no birth certificate, or ID, or Social Security Card. It’s hard for them to get shelter or jobs,” Martin said. “It’s harder for them in DC, because in order to get a birth certificate you need to have an ID, and to get an ID you have to have a birth certificate. It’s like a never-ending circle, which is why you have to go step by step.”