A love legacy: Shelburne child’s death sparks ‘pay it forward’ movement  

Published on January 19, 2016

WELSHTOWN - Carmen Huskilson was a courageous five-year old who spent her early years defying all odds

Health concerns kept the Welshtown girl in and out of the hospital throughout her short life.

The community joined her family in grief when Carmen died unexpectedly Jan. 12.

“We are completely overwhelmed and happy and humbled with everyone’s generosity and love and support,” her mother, Jennie Huskilson, told the Coast Guard Jan. 18.

At Carmen's funeral and through her obituary, 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 so we ask you: Please Pay it Forward in her name,” wrote the Huskilsons.  “We will be eternally grateful as she loved helping others.”

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It did not take long for the community to take hold of the request and spread it far and wide.

On the day of Carmen’s funeral, Jan. 15, TLC Pharmacy in Shelburne paid it forward for her by buying everyone’s prescriptions and purchases throughout the day.

People bought orders of coffee for the person behind them. 

Random acts of kindness started to crop up everywhere.

Hundreds of “paying it forward for Carmen” stories have been posted in the Facebook group Paying it Forward, In memory of Carmen Faith Huskilson.

“My heart is broken but exploding with joy at the same time,” wrote Jennie Huskilson to the group.

Reports of paying it forward for Carmen have spread as far as Texas and Vancouver.

People are plowing snow and handing out needed items to the homeless in Halifax.

Others are donating to the local schools at Hillcrest Academy and Little People’s Place where Carmen attended.  Some donations, including a pizza party, were made to help cheer up the classmates who are missing their little friend.

However, the movement isn’t stopping here in southwest Nova Scotia.  People are printing out pay it forward cards in Ontario, PEI and Alberta and passing along a kind act and asking only if another kind act is given to another in Carmen’s name.

In an interview, Huskilson said she was overwhelmed by the community’s response.

 “We wanted to do this to try and spread positivity through our community and try and give back what we could even through this rough time,” she said.

The family was approached by friends and members of the community asking how they could help.

“This is what we came up with,” Jennie said.

A fund has been created in Carmen’s memory so her family can help others.

“We haven’t decided exactly what we want to do with the fund yet but it will be something in our community and something positive in the healthcare field,” she said.

“We are so, so thankful for everything, big and small, that people have done and hope it continues on for a long, long time,” said Jennie Huskilson.  “We want people to just remember to love and be kind, and know that we will make it through this difficult time because of this.”

Through love and loss, the Huskilsons are building a legacy to keep the giving and happy spirit of their daughter alive.