Local girl spreads happiness and hippie-ness

She calls it a God thing. A year-and-a-half ago, Ashlie Busone dropped a business card on a ferry boat on her way to Vermont. Someone picked it up and called her a couple days later, asking if she'd like to sponsor a school for girls in Tanzania. Busone said yes.

Now, Busone, who graduated from Ballston Spa High School on Wednesday, June 23, is getting ready to travel across the globe to meet the girls she's come to know and love.

"I'm really very excited to see the smiles on their faces when we finally meet. I know I'll learn a lot more from them than I could ever teach them in the couple weeks I'll be there. I'm looking forward to being able to say I met these 50 girls I sponsor and am really changing their lives," said Busone.

In July, Busone, her guidance counselor and a teacher will spend three-and-a-half weeks at Sega Girls School in Tanzania, teaching the girls English, gardening and helping out however they can.

But Busone started helping her faraway friends long before she set out to meet them. Each month, she takes a portion of the sales from her grassroots charitable organization, Hippies for Hope, and mails them a check. She recently sold some Tanzanian paintings as a fundraiser and was able to send over a $1,000 check. All the money goes toward things we take for granted, like school supplies, energy, clean water and electricity.

Hippies for Hope combines the idea of "peace, good energy and positive karma" that ran rampant during the hippie era. The name also went perfectly with the organization's calling card: tye dye shirts.

"I always say, this is 'To empower the dreams of hundreds and send smiles to thousands more. Wear a shirt, give a smile, spread hope,'" said Busone.

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