Acts of kindness keep ‘Joy’ alive

Acts of kindness keep ‘Joy’ alive
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
It was a day of joy.
And a day for Joy.
When Troy residents Karl and Natalie (Grossner) Huebner asked people to do random acts of kindness last Saturday, they never imagined the response it would draw.
To remember their beloved daughter and to honor her birthdate, the young couple created “A day of JOY!” — which simply asked people to do something nice for someone else.
Mr. and Mrs. Huebner’s daughter, Aimee Joy, died at birth Nov. 24, 2011.
About a month before, a few months into the pregnancy, they had learned their baby girl had a chromosomal abnormality. Doctors told them she would be born alive, but they weren’t able to tell how long her heart would beat. At 26 weeks into Mrs. Huebner’s pregnancy, Aimee’s heart stopped.
The Huebners named their daughter Aimee Joy — because Aimee means “beloved” and “serene spirit,” while Joy signifies the happiness the couple felt for their baby from the moment they learned they were going to be first-time parents.
“We chose it because we were so happy when we found out I was pregnant, even the moment we got to hold her,” Mrs. Huebner said. “I would do it all over again.”
Mrs. Huebner, a teacher at Hillcrest Elementary in Troy, said the past year has been a time of healing for her and her husband and they have been sustained by God’s grace and comfort.
As the date of Aimee’s birth approached, the couple began to think of ways to mark the day. Mrs. Huebner said they couldn’t give their daughter gifts and they didn’t want to be sad all day Nov. 24, so they decided they’d like to see people doing kind things for other people.
And “A day of JOY!” was born.
The Huebners initially launched their special day with family and friends and also shared the information with their church family at Troy First Baptist Church when they spoke about suffering and what God has done for them.
Then, Mrs. Huebner created a Facebook page to further spread the word via the Internet.
“In memory and honor of our daughter Aimee’s birthday, we invite you to do something nice for someone else,” according to the Facebook page. “Let’s help a stranger or do a random act of kindness for someone in need. Please post a picture if possible to this event page to share with everybody what you have done in Aimee’s memory. We can’t believe it will have been a year since we were blessed for such a short time.”
The response was overwhelming — with more than 1,800 people invited to participate and nearly 350 people committing to be involved. Hundreds more posted their random acts of kindness as they occurred.
“It just kind of grew,” Mrs. Huebner told The Messenger. “People just jumped on it. … It was so cool.”
Among the acts of kindness were donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the March of Dimes, the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, the Ronald McDonald House, Goodwill, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Mid South Food Bank and many other organizations to help those in need.
Some of the more unique gestures in Aimee’s memory ranged from one person who delivered a basket of newborn baby goodies to a new family at the hospital to someone else who purchased a star in Aimee’s name so she can always “shine bright.”
Other participants did acts of kindness that included taking Thanksgiving dinner to the elderly, buying meals for strangers at restaurants, purchasing clothing and toys for less fortunate children, delivering food to hospital and nursing home staffs, giving extra generous tips or gift cards to restaurant servers — and even leaving a $10 bill on a gas pump for the next customer to find.
Mrs. Huebner said she was touched by every single act of kindness, but especially by those which involved doing things for children.
“They all meant a lot to me,” she said.
She said even though Nov. 24 was the designated day, people’s good deeds actually started earlier last week and have even continued afterward. Some participants on Facebook commented that such acts of kindness should be done every day and others said the special day challenged them to be more giving.
She told The Messenger she did not expect such an overwhelming response and finds it “very humbling” that people would take time out of their busy schedules to participate. She would like to see “A day of JOY!” become an annual event.
“It’s been amazing,” Mrs. Huebner said.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.29.12

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