My son, Brandon M. Austin, was just thirteen when he lost his life in a tragic accident. He was SO full of joy and smiles, and had one of the biggest hearts! He loved to make people laugh and smile, and practiced "random acts of kindness" whenever he could. Brandon always looked for things to do when he walked home from school. If he noticed someone was unloading groceries from their car, he would offer to lend a hand. If he saw a class mate walking alone, he would offer to walk with them. He would stop at both of our local animal shelters and "visit" with the animals for a few minutes, just to let them know they were loved. In the winter, he would shovel our neighbors walkways and steps, always hurrying to get it done before they could see it was him doing it! So many people came forward and shared stories with us after our loss. It not only helped soothe our hearts... It inspired us!

We decided to start a memorial fund in his honor, that followed all of his loves and passions in life, while at the same time, giving back to community. One of the programs we have started is our “Legos for Learning: Brandon’s Buddies”. This program started VERY small in a local elementary school that Brandon attended, with just a few Lego kits purchased to help students who had a tough time in the classroom stay on task. The kits were such a hit, that it was expanded upon, and we purchased math kits to help children learn their math skills with hands-on tools. IT WORKED!!!! And it is growing exponentially! AND THE KIDS LOVE IT!!

Our focus this #GivingTuesday is two-fold: Part one is the money part. We have agreed to cover the cost to purchase 12 more Lego kits for this year’s program. Each kit contains 520 Legos. That’s 6,240 Legos at (roughly) 29 cents each. Our total goal, therefore, is $1,810.

Now, here’s the second part of our campaign: what we REALLY want people to do is give of THEMSELVES! We want them to “Pay it Forward the BMA Way”, and do something KIND for someone on #GivingTuesday. For every kind act that someone does, we are contributing $1 towards the goal of $1,810 to allow more children to learn with Legos.

We want people to think of Brandon when they pay it forward this Giving Tuesday. We want them to share their acts of kindness with us, so that we in turn can pay that kindness forward to benefit others! We are hoping to have ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED and TEN acts of kindness done and shared with us! Brandon would have loved it, and we know that he will be smiling a HUGE grin watching people touch other people's lives with smiles.

By Loralie Austin