Dawn Martin, Why I Care Member Recipient


Eight years ago when Dawn Martin’s son, Shawn, a U.S. Marine, was killed while serving in Iraq, she began looking for a purpose and a way to honor Shawn’s memory, a young man who was well known for his strong hugs. Soon after, Uncle Shawn’s Hugs was born, a non-profit that makes and distributes warm, fleece blankets (hugs) to underprivileged children.

Dawn vividly remembers one of the first times she was handing out blankets at stops on the Toys for Tots Holiday Train and a young boy who had just received a new toy asked if he could have a blanket in exchange for his toy. “I knew that was a wake-up call for me,” said Martin. “It made me realize that although there are great needs everywhere, I could make a difference right in my own backyard.”

Since it started, Uncle Shawn’s Hugs has distributed more than 5,800 “hugs” to children in need. Dawn finds comfort in knowing that each time she wraps a blanket around a child, she is keeping Shawn’s mission of giving to others alive.