Aaron Collins died last Saturday in Lexington, Ky. When his family got together to have pizza three days later, they weren’t just having lunch. They were fulfilling the last wish expressed by Collins in his will.
Collins’ written instructions to his family asked for the usual things — such as his debts to be paid with whatever he had — but they also had an unusual request. He wanted his family to go eat somewhere together and “leave an awesome tip” for the server. He suggested pizza and a $500 tip.
The 30-year-old didn’t leave much money and there wasn’t enough to fulfill the request, so the family set up a website in the dead man’s name and asked for donations for $500. They quickly reached the goal. On Tuesday, the family gathered at Puccini’s in Lexington. With a video camera rolling in the background, Collins’ brother told a stunned young woman that his recently deceased brother wanted someone to have the tip — and then he handed her $500. (See the video below. The audio isn’t good, but there are words on the screen to help.)
The family explained with the video why they thought Collins asked for this, and they explained what they intended to do to keep honoring his intentions.
We think he just wanted to provide a random act of kindness and generosity for someone he thought was under appreciated; the kind of thing that would make a lasting impact they would never forget. If you want to keep his legacy going, please feel free to donate. So far we have collected over $1000 [more than $10,000 by Friday night] so we will definitely be doing this again, for another random waiter or waitress, very soon! Each time we have $500 we will do it again, even if that means going out to eat multiple times a day.
Are there better ways of giving $500? Maybe. Are there more organized ways of using money to impact people’s lives? Certainly. But for one lucky random server, it was a day she will remember for the rest of her life.
How would you like the opportunity to impact someone’s life in some unexpected way after you’re gone? I’d never thought about this — and I don’t think I’d personally choose Collins’ method — but the question intrigued me all day Friday after I heard of this. (That’s the server, Sarah Ward, with Collins’ mother, Tina Collins, on the right.)
We sometimes think of having an impact on the world — something that can last — but in our fantasies, it’s bigger things. But most of us will never do those bigger things that get written about in history books. Maybe a lot of people who want to make an impact would do better to think small, as Collins did, and find some little way that our death can bring something unexpectedly good for another person.
I’d like to be remembered as a person who changed the world. I’d like to be known as someone who lived up to the purpose for which God put him on this earth. Beyond that, though, I’d like to figure out some smaller ways that I could touch some individuals after I die — a gift to a random missionary or a power bill paid for some random struggling people or unexpected food for some people in need.
I hope to have a lot of impact on a lot of people while I’m still alive, but I’m also going to start thinking seriously about this novel idea. What about you? If you’re driven to help others, what random things do you think you’d like to make happen for someone after you’re gone?