SHELBURNE - ‘Paid forward from Carmen,’ is what a coffee cup reads in a shop in London, Ont.
A lift ticket is purchased at a ski hill in Vermont for the people next in line – with it they receive a card with five-year old Carmen Huskilson’s smiling face and a note to pay it forward.
And on and on it continues to go, well beyond Shelburne County’s borders where Carmen lived.
On Jan. 12 the five-year-old died from pneumonia. She had fought many tough battles throughout her short life after being born with diaphragmatic hernia, meaning her heart and lungs were in the wrong place.
Despite the medical complications, Carmen was described as a happy girl who didn’t complain. Her parents taught her the importance of community and giving back.
At Carmen's funeral and through her obituary, her parents Jennie and Andrew Huskilson asked that the community “pay it forward” in their daughter’s name.
“In keeping with Carmen’s outlook on life we believe this is a time to make our community stronger and better,” they said. “We will be eternally grateful as she loved helping others.”
The good deeds quickly began to pour into the Facebook group: Paying it Forward In Memory of Carmen Faith Huskilson. People were even offering up a day’s pay to donate to the Carmen Memorial Fund, from which the Huskilson family will contribute back into the community.
Cuts for Carmen has offered hair cuts at a local salon, Shear Touch Hair Designs, where 31 people, including Carmen’s classmates, came in to contribute to the cause.
Calla Brown, a seven-year old from Liverpool, came to Hillcrest Academy last week to meet with Carmen’s classmates and to give out homemade bracelets.
“It made me feel all fuzzy on the inside,” she said. “I felt good and happy to do this for the children.”
The Grade 2 student started Calla Bella Designs to raise money to visit family last summer and it bloomed. She makes bracelets out of recycled t-shirts and donates 25 cents from each bracelet to the local foodbank.
“To pay it forward I made bracelets for everyone in Carmen’s class, the teacher and the teacher’s helper,” she said.
Another example of giving came when a local man had his bike stolen, which was his main mode of transportation. It didn’t take long for many offers to replace the bike come rolling in.
Christy Wilson is another who decided to pay it forward. With her mother and sisters, they provided funding for a five-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic to attend school.
“Reading about how people in our community and beyond are paying it forward for Carmen warms my heart and makes me cry,” she wrote on the Facebook page. “So much good has come from such a dark sad day. Her parents are strong and caring people who have together inspired thousands of others to be kind to one another.”