The community, including her daycare, Little People’s Place in Shelburne, grieved when five-year-old Huskilson passed away unexpectedly in January.
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.”
Since then the community has met this challenge head on with thousands of acts of kindness throughout the community and beyond.
Susan Elliot, director of Little People’s Place, said there have been many people in the community who have paid it forward in Carmen’s memory to the daycare.
“Donations started coming in, some anonymous, where they asked it to go to parents who might be struggling to pay their bill,” she said.
When some parents went into their envelopes to dig out their bill they found that it had been paid.
“They were so thankful,” said Elliot.
Some donations went to installing new flooring in the King Street Centre’s bathroom, replacing old and outdated flooring with gleaming new flooring. A difference appreciated by all. The King Street Centre is an extension of Little People’s Place.
Company staff through Nick Stewart and Shear Touch all raised money for the centre and Nick Stewart matched his employees’ donations.
“All of our snow plowing was done for free,” said Elliot.
But the giving did not end there.
Mud kitchens were constructed for each playground. Community members, including Frank Renaud, built a new table in the housekeeping centre and Lacey Young collected donations from clients and was matched by Audie Harding to build a large play bridge in the centre’s playground.
Lori Dexter took charge and organized a team of people and help through Woodworker’s Home Hardware to do a $4,000 makeover in the children’s tumble room.
A huge wardrobe was built with a large chalkboard and beautiful kid-friendly decorations complete the room.
Elliot said the daycare centre has always operated on a tight budget and this kind of community support is invaluable.
“We have always been very fortunate to have wonderful community support,” she said. “This is a great example of people thinking about others.”
She said children will enjoy the recent upgrades through the support by the community for years to come.
“For us it is a reminder of Carmen,” said Elliot. “We were very fond of her and her family.”
“We are so thankful for everything that has been done, big or small, it all matters to us," said Jennie Huskilson, Carmen's mother. She said funds raised through Carmen's name will go to paying it forward in the community. "Plans are still in place to make a $100,000 donation from the fund towards the new medical centre. Money that continues to be donated to the fund will be distributed in ways that will help as many people as possible."