Regular readers will recall that over the summer, my niece Maggie Lee was tragically killed when a church bus she was riding on its way to youth camp flipped over and landed on her. She spent three seemingly interminable weeks in a Mississippi ICU, mostly in an induced coma, before finally giving up the ghost. But in the meantime, her story spread virally across the internet, with thousands of people (including many the family didn't know) tracking her progress on Facebook and through a website called Caring Bridge. The story was distributed so widely on listservs and Facebook pages that it garnered its own Snopes.com entry confirming the details.
Maggie Lee's death was an unthinkable blow to the family and a true test of faith for my brother John, a Baptist preacher, and his wife Jinny. It's impossible to endure the death of a happy, healthy, vibrant child and not think, "It's not fair. Why would God let this happen? What good could possibly come from such a tragedy?"
After she died, a friend of the family suggested that they honor Maggie Lee by attempting to get 1,300 people to commit to performing an act of kindness on her 13th birthday. Her Mom posted the suggestion on the Caring Bridge site, and almost immediately several times that number pledged to participate in the one-day commemoration, dubbed "Maggie Lee For Good." Check out the website created for the effort. Pretty soon, they upped the goal to 13,000, which they also topped.
As of today, her birthday, some 17,800 individuals have signed up to commit to performing a single act of kindness in Maggie Lee's honor. Here are some examples of things people are doing. In some cases, entire schools are participating. E.g.:
St. Thomas Moore Catholic School is having a Mass in Maggie Lee's name where the written good deeds of all students will be placed in a box on the altar. ...When I saw John and Jinny over the weekend for their son Jack's 11th birthday party, I learned there is even a budding clothing and jewelry line, with several different folks selling items to raise money for various good causes (with the family's blessing). Somebody created a neat logo for them (see below) and there are yard signs and even a small billboard around Shreveport promoting this special day.
TROPHY CLUB, TX - Lakeview Elementary is having a Maggie Lee For Good WEEK!!!! and donating food items to the Northwest Area Food Bank.
For those who care to do so, I'd encourage you to honor Maggie Lee's memory today, even if you never met her, with some commemorative act of kindness or good deed. And if you want to let my brother's family know what you've done on their daughter's behalf and perhaps leave a message of encouragement, you can use this form on the MaggieLeeForGood.org website.
If you're interested, check out my brother's blog, Wondering Thoughts, where he's posted his own thoughts this morning along with a link to Shreveport Times coverage.
Thanks a lot for your off-topic indulgence.