MARTINSBURG, WVa. (WDVM) — For 10-year-old Aryonna Martin, this past year has gone by faster than most.
In July of 2018, the Martinsburg resident was crowned Little Miss United States in Las Vegas, Nev.
“When I was standing there it was me and a girl and I was scared,” Martin recalled. “I was nervous but definitely excited because I had made it through that whole week. And when I won, I felt amazing. Like I just rocked the stage.”
Martin, who had previously held the title of Little Miss Maryland, used her new title to bring awareness to the charity Comfort Cases, a Rockville, Md.-based organization that provides bags and supplies to children in the foster care system. In particular, the non-profit focuses on eliminating the use of trash bags to transport the children’s belongings from home to home–an issue close to Martin’s own heart.
She was just 6 years old when she founded her own charity, Every Child Matters that held a similar goal, after her own cousins were placed in the foster care system and had to carry their own items in a trash bag.
“I want to make sure every child feels like they matter. And our goal is to make sure that we ban trash bags nationwide out of the foster care system,” Martin said. “Comfort Case is a duffle bag or a backpack that is filled with personal items such as tooth brushes, toiletries, journals, books, and pajamas.”
During her busy year, Martin has made donation visits to families in War, W. Va. and to the girls in a group home in Burlington, W. Va., as well as making official appearances at events such as Winchester Pride and the Children’s Memorial Service. On top of it all, she’s kept up the busy schedule of a 10-year-old, filled with dance classes, cheerleading practice, a budding modeling career, and spending time with her family.
Even though her reign is coming to an end, Martin is still collecting donations to help kids in foster care. Her goal is to work for Child Protective Services when she grows up, following in the footsteps of her aunt and grandmother.
“Without a title, without a sash, without a crown,” she said. “I’m going to do community service no matter what.”
In a few weeks she will be without that title though, returning to Las Vegas to crown the next queen in late July. She offers this advice to the contestants:
“Give your love, your help. Because not everyone is this fortunate.”