Bluffton woman wins Presidential Citizens Medal

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - Lending a helping hand is just a way of life for Ida Martin.

"I just love to help people, it just makes me feel good," said Martin.

Thanks to Ida's passion and hard work, those in need are able to get free food, clothing and financial assistance. Ida started an organization called Bluffton Self Help years ago out of her home.

"I opened my garage to them, asking people for clothes and food," said Martin. "We would go around with my church and I walked the streets to get established."

The organization now serves more than 22,000 people in Bluffton each year.

"I could not do this alone," said Martin. "The volunteers are just great. I have shared many tears to get where we are today. I'm thankful for being here and for all the volunteers and the community who just pitched in."

"This woman is 84 years old, she hasn't missed a beat," said Lili Coleman, Bluffton Self Help Executive Director. "She continues to be very involved in the organization. She has a pulse in this community."

While she's certainly a pillar in this community, Ida's good deeds are now getting nationally recognized. She is one of just 13 people in the nation who will receive the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal.

"We jumped up and down, just like dancing, we're going to the White house. I never in my life thought something like this would happen, makes me feel so good," said Martin.

She will soon be on her way to Washington D.C. to meet the President.

"I'm so excited," said Ida. " I hope I don't faint."

This exciting news comes at an exciting time in the organization's future. After years of hard work, they're putting the finishing touches on their new facility.

"It fills my heart with joy just to see this, what's happening," said Martin. "Moving here I had dreams that one day this would happen."

Ida will be honored at the White House next week. This award is the nation's second highest civilian honor. She and 12 others were chosen out of 6,000 applicants.

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