Ashley Olson, a senior at Peninsula High School, with a big assist from her mom, Theresa Gilmore, successfully fulfilled her senior project by adopting and providing holiday gift baskets of food to eight needy families on the Key Peninsula over the holidays. They did the volunteer work through the good offices and assistance of the Key Peninsula Community Services/Food Bank.

It was the second such adoption by the team: At Thanksgiving, they had sponsored 20 other food baskets. And while seniors enjoyed their holiday meal and some live entertainment the week before Christmas at KPCS, the two Santa’s elves filled all their stockings, used to decorate the KPCS walls, with candy.

Gilmore said she had experienced the need for the sort of assistance KPCS offers in her past and is now happy that she and her daughter are in a position to pay back to the community.

Ashley credits her mom with inspiring her to adopt the families for Christmas as part of her senior project, as she helped Theresa organize the Thanksgiving feat.

“She made me realize how good it felt to help someone in need,” said Ashley, adding that after her stepfather died in October, her mom delivered random acts of kindness to others as a way to cope.

Ashley is also involved in track and field at PHS and maintains a 3.7 GPA. She plans to attend a community college, then transfer to a four-year university and seek a career in writing and the arts.