The meal had been poor, the waitress rude . . . .

The $50 tip that followed couldn’t have been more surprising.

Yet Aaron Collins took great pleasure in such things: unexpected kindnesses, surprising people, touching their lives.

He might have died – unexpectedly, aged just 30 – but the kind Kentuckian’s goodness lives on. His brother Seth is seeing to that.

Countless strangers too, for Aaron’s tale has touched people the planet over. It began with a blog . . .

Titled Aaron’s Wish, Seth wrote about his brother’s will. Little could he have imagined the reaction.

‘Aaron was the type of person that took great joy in unexpected kindness,’ he revealed. ‘Once, after receiving exceptionally bad service at dinner, from a rude waitress, he left her a $50 tip. Things like this, given or received, were what he thought left a mark on a person’s life.

‘Aaron passed away on July 7, 2012, just three weeks after his 30th birthday. He left us a will full of his personality. He asked that any debt he owed his parents be repaid should he have money in the bank at his death, but also the following request: Leave an awesome tip (and I don’t mean $25, I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress.’

In recent weeks, Seth and his family have been doing just that.

Aaron’s financial affairs – Seth puts this down to ‘the way Aaron lived his life’ – meant that he didn’t leave a lot to make his wish come true. So Seth asked for donations . . . .

The response has been extraordinary.

In the month that followed that touching blog post, more than $55,000 was donated by total strangers. That’s enough to leave a $500 tip for 111 waiters and waitresses, a process that has begun in earnest, as this short film demonstrates.

Having watched this, we have to agree that acts of unexpected kindness are rather great. For opening our eyes, we couldn’t be more grateful to Aaron.

To quote Seth, “[He] lived his life quickly, not holding on to many things and always with a vigor to have experiences not possessions. He was incredibly sentimental, although he always tried to hide it. The small things that people did for him are what touched him the most. He was generous with the limited means he had and his last wishes were that any money he had be given freely in ways that would impact those who received it.”

He sounds like a great guy . . . .

Not just because of the things that he himself believed in, but because he has inspired others to follow his example. To give freely. To help others. To touch lives and make a difference.

It is people like Aaron who inspire our OMs, set an example and drive our efforts here in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.

Here’s to him and here’s to unexpected kindness . . . .

We are all connected.

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