In Loving Memory

  • Remembering my beloved child, Austin, who passed away at the early age of 14. He lived more in those 14 short years than most and is an inspiration to us all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reverse Shopping Spree

From Joyful Challenge:

Our shopping this weekend didn't include fighting crowds and hunting for deals, but instead involved hiding them. We didn't stand in line, scour the ads, and struggle with strangers but rather snuck, searched, and whispered through the store. The kids chose to do "acts of kindness" by attaching money to gifts and tucking them secretly back on the shelves. While we didn't stay to see the reactions, we hope children will grab items wanting them, as they often do, and be surprised. It was one of the best shopping trips I can ever remember during such a normally chaotic holiday experience.

Sharing with the kids the "free drink" idea, they quickly asked if they could do the same and that started our Kindness "Reverse-Shopping" Spree. Handing them change and a sheet of labels, we set off. Soaking in the meaning of the labels, which said, "This random act of kindness was done in memory of Austin Blair (7/8/94 – 11/29/08). Pay it forward." they were both silent for a moment and then touched to get to be a part of this project.

Instantly, they began spurting off ideas of things we could do to make a difference in someone's day. We soon ended up at a local store with a plan and two very excited kids.  Each of them had a few one dollar bills and began the search for toys in that amount so whatever child found it would be able to get it for free. Sadly, in today's economy, there aren't a great deal of choices in this category but I think the kids did a wonderful job.

Noah found a firefighter coloring book, which reminded him of Austin and how much he loved the fire department. Attaching the dollar to the back, I was glad I captured the sweet innocence with my phone. He then located a container of play-do, something he still loves to play with even at his age. Tucking them both so that the dollars were hidden, Tina began her hunt.

She was able to find a toy firetruck as well. It was the only truck in the mixture of rubber ducks. Bringing the box toward the front and at a kid's eye level, she squeezed the truck in among the yellow birds. I can only imagine how happy a little child will be when they spy it and their chubby little hand grabs it off the shelf.

Tina then headed for the baby food aisle, saying how hard it might be for someone this time of year. Hoping a single mom or struggling family might happen upon the food, she attached a dollar with a label, making it free.

Both kids said after each one, "Wow, this feels good," and "I wish I could see who gets it," or "I hope it goes to someone who really needs it." They were both truly touched by the acts and honored to do something in Austin's memory.

Noah, remembering he had a five dollar bill in his pocket, asked if we could make one last stop at the shoes. He wanted to gift a free pair to a child who may need it. Finding just the right pair, he hid the money inside with a smile.

On the way home, we made a few more secret stops the kids requested, each one a hug to my heart.

While we miss Austin every day, holidays are the hardest, especially this weekend with his angel-versary approaching. However, I know Austin was with us every step of this shopping spree and so very proud of his little brother and cousin. I could feel his sweet spirit surrounding us and am thankful for each treasured moment. I hope Austin's spirit lives on and touches each family finding these hidden surprises.

Just the act certainly blessed each of us.


  1. I just wanted to tell you how touched I am by your story. I read your letter to Austin for his 18th birthday and was overcome with emotion. There are just no words to express how much it touched my heart. Then I found this blog and began to browse through it some. I have two boys of my own, and I love them dearly. The only reason that I even came across your blog was that I just lost my temper with my oldest son, Brayden, and felt horrible about it. (We're leaving for vacation in a few hours and I am trying hecticly to get all the last minute things taken care of.) I sat down at the computer just to regain my composure, and there you were. I put something as silly as a suitcase before my son. Your story has shown me that I need to value every second with my children. They are truly gifts from God. I think God was trying to give me a wake up call a few minutes ago. I certainly got the message! I just wanted to thank you for being so brave and for sharing your story. It will certainly stick with me. I think we might even do a reverse shopping spree here in Virginia in honor of Austin if that is ok with you. May God bless you and your family! With Love, Katy

  2. First time I have come across Austin's legacy ahd have read every story which is very touching. I am so interested in Austin and you as a grieving mom. Thanks for turning your grief into something that is shared by all who read your inspiring stories. Makes you live each day as if its the last; no knowing when. Please; forgive me; may I ask how Austin happened to enroll in heaven. Was it a tragic accident or a terminal illness or.. He inspired me so I just needed to know more! Sorry to have you recall the painful moments.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. We would be honored for your family to do a reverse shopping spree in Austin's memory!

    Nea - his passing was very sudden and unexpected. I think you can read more about it in the post "Undetermined" but basically it was from a viral throat infection he had no symptoms for. It attacked his breathing and shut off air to his lungs.


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