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Pay It Forward: Ashley Salazar, an Austin business owner helping the homeless

Her delicious treats turned into showing kindness to the homeless.

AUSTIN, Texas — One East Austin woman is showing kindness to strangers and she's inspiring others along the way. 

"Honestly, it started in middle school. Instead of having books in my backpack, I had a backpack full of candies and goodies. I had sodas, pickles, chips, anything you can think of I sold it for 25 cents," said Ashley Salazar. 

For her, every cent counted. 

"My family honestly didn't have a lot of money growing up," she added. 

Times were hard and meals weren't guaranteed. 

"There were times that my brother literally had to give up his plate to feed me so I wouldn't be starving. Just that alone, it gave me the passion that I have to work for my own," said Salazar.

She hustled working fast-food jobs, and eventually started up her own business in 2018 – Ashley's Treats and Eats

"I was selling my strawberries. I would put them out on Facebook, and some days would be better than others," Salazar explained.

Her menu has evolved and business is booming. But Salazar isn't stopping there. She's passing on the kindness she received by starting up a community effort on Facebook to help the homeless. 

"I literally just made a post and I just got filled and flooded with donations. Baptist church, they were a blessing and gave me boxes of chips you know," said Salazar. 

With the help of friends, Salazar made sandwiches as well as hygiene bags filled with soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Her enthusiasm and positivity prompted Lucy De La Rosa to volunteer. 

"Whenever she does things like this, it's a good feeling to want to join in. The last time that we went to go feed the homeless I didn't think as many people would show up but they did to come help, and at the end of it it was a bunch of people feeling good about doing something good for the community," said De La Rosa.

Everyone needs a boost from time to time and a little kindness goes a long way. On behalf of KVUE and Charles Maund Toyota, we awarded Salazar with $1,000 for Paying It Forward. 

"Thank you, ma'am, I really appreciate it. My whole life I've been overlooked because of the choices that I've made, and the way I chose to dress. People judged me my whole life and because of that is why I've been able to love on others that people have a hard time loving on," Salazar tearfully said. 

It takes one person to make an impact and, in this case, that's Salazar. 

WATCH: Pay It Forward: A year in review

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