By Marty Gordon
Melissa Poole of Christiansburg lost her daughter, Ashlyn, in a tragic car wreck in July 2018.
Shortly before the 2018 holiday season, Melissa and a friend began discussions of what they could do to try to cope with their overwhelming grief and sense of loss. The friend suggested Melissa find something to devote her time to, something to honor Ashlyn and to provide a purpose to help in the grieving process.
“It became evident after we lost Ash that she touched many lives with her infectious smile and genuine care for others,” Melissa said. So, after considering several possibilities, the family decided on a random acts of kindness project and named it Acts4Ash.
A Facebook page shares some of these “unselfish acts” with postings coming from all over the United States and several foreign countries.
Printed Acts4Ash cards are available to mail to anyone who would like to participate and requests one. Melissa urges anyone who shows a random act of kindness to someone to take a picture of the kindness shown, including the Acts4Ash card, and post it on the Acts4Ash Facebook page.
Currently, the page has more than 1,000 members, and more than 200acts of kindness have been shared since the page was created on Nov. 21, 2018
Melissa believes that Acts4Ash help keep her daughter’s memory alive by creating a sense of giving back in the hearts of hundreds of people. “We want others to continue to spread that joy in her memory,” she said.
Ashlyn’s friends have presented the family with a scrapbook of pictures and letters they wrote about her. A repetitive theme appeared in all of their letters, according to Melissa: Ashlyn always made people smile and brought joy to their lives.
The friends wrote, “She always gave me hope,” “She really did lift up everyone around her,” “Ashlyn had the power to change us all for the better,” “She could walk into a room and light it up with her amazing smile and personality” and “I absolutely adored her sense of humor, attitude, and outlook on life.”
“Along with those quotes we’ve heard many stories of Ashlyn brightening up other’s lives by leaving encouraging notes, cheering you on in whatever you were doing and making sure no one was left out of anything,” Melissa said.
“When we first initiated Acts4Ash, we honestly thought it would be something to help us through our first holidays without her as well as spreading kindness to others during the giving season,” Melissa said. “We never imagined that after a year, it would still be going as strong as it is today. In addition, we imagined it as only being local and in Georgia where we also have family and friends. To know it has spread as far as California, Miami, Colorado, Washington State and Hawaii in the U.S. is amazing,” she said.
Acts4Ash has also reached people in Turks & Caicos, Singapore, Guam, Germany, Spain, Mexico and South Korea.
The cards that Melissa sends out to others to distribute read: “Please enjoy this random act of kindness in memory of Ashlyn Poole. She brightened everyone’s day and I hope this brightens yours.”
Melissa hopes Acts4Ash continues to move forward in spreading kindness and joy to others. “We enjoy seeing the posts on our Acts4Ash Facebook page. We ask that anyone who participates in Acts4Ash and anyone who received an Acts4Ash card to post it on the page as well as anyone who receives an Acts4Ash. The stories of how it has touched lives have helped us greatly through the grieving process,” she said.