COVID can’t stop this girl

Alyssa Hiles with Lucy, the dog, and Susan O’Neill owner of Market Street Cafe. O’Neill is holding the check for the Autism Project. They are wearing the T-shirts that were sold to raise some of the money.

A photo of the emblem for the shirts Alyssa sold for the Autism Project.

PORTSMOUTH — Some people have that special way about them and they don’t give up even when COVID-19 tries to get in their way.

One of those special people is 20-year-old Alyssa Hiles. Hiles has been doing something for autism awareness for the past five years now, and this year is no different. This year, Hiles teamed up with Market Street Cafe where they made cookies and sold them along with T-shirt sales. With COVID, Hiles knew she wouldn’t be able to do a big fundraiser, but she still wanted to do something. She worked with Susan O’Neill and Mary Rase, owners of Market Street Cafe.

Hiles is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in the class of 2019. She herself has autism and that is one of the reasons she wants to do whatever she can to raise autism awareness. She has even spoken at her high school to help them understand autism.

“I would go down there (Market Street) a couple of days and ice them and decorate them to make them look cute,” Hiles said. “We had two days where we sold the T-shirts and sold the cookies.”

Hiles’ mother, Julie shared, Alyssa still wanted to be able to donate to the Autism Project of Scioto County even though things were different this year. She said she thought that throughout the years Alyssa has done this and raised more than $10,000 for autism.

“She always amazes us with what she does. She always appreciates the businesses that team up with her. Notre Dame is always good to help her do things like her cookie sales,” Julie said.

When asked about what she would like to do in her future, Hiles said, “I would just like to spread more awareness about autism and spreading the word will help people understand it more.” As for what Hiles wants to do in the future, she said, “I am trying to figure out what I want to do, but I know I want to do something for autism.”

Speaking with Susan O’Neill from Market Street, she said that Hiles is a special girl and that she has known her and her family She shared that Hiles is very talented and a great artist and that she decorated the cookies herself and does an amazing job. She also said that Hiles is a great photographer. O’Neill said that Hiles comes down to Market Street to help out many times throughout the year. She said she will just wipe tables or anything you ask her to do, and that of course she loves doing the cookies.

O’Neill shared that this year with the cookies and T-shirt sales, she was able to give the Autism Project $1,050. She said that this is not what they are used to making, but with COVID, at least Hiles did her best to do something. She said that normally Hiles would come down on Thursdays and make cookies to sell at Notre Dame on Fridays at school when she was in school and that they Key Club there would even come down to help.

Hiles had her dog, Lucy, with her for the photo, and O’Neill said that Hiles wanted a puppy, so she is having to learn to train her and she is doing a good job taking care of her.

Whatever Hiles decides to do in the future, it appears that she will have no trouble impressing anyone who comes in contact with her. She was able to pull off this fundraiser, even with COVID looming over everything.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times