Salvation Army organizers in Midland, Mich., were stunned on Dec. 4 when one of their famous red kettles yielded a marquise-cut diamond engagement ring worth about $2,000. The anonymous donor attached a note that simply read: "Paying It Forward, Jayden Style. God Bless."
The donation was in honor of second-grader Jayden Lamb, who lost his battle with cancer on Nov. 27. Lamb would have been nine on Dec. 12.
After Jayden's death, the Lamb family decided to honor their special boy by doing random acts of kindness. This would evolve rapidly into a movement called "Pay It Forward, Jayden Style."
"The movement started the day before his funeral when we were just getting coffee," the Lambs told Yahoo! Shine. "Not knowing the person behind us, we still felt compelled to buy their coffee. It was just a small way for us to say thank you."
After their son's funeral on Dec. 1, the Lambs went to a local Walmart and asked to pay off a layaway bill. "We told the worker that it had to be for toys and that it had to be in honor of Jayden," they wrote on Facebook. "It is just so amazing to be able to do something for someone else."
The Lambs are now encouraging others to follow their lead and document their good deeds on a special Facebook page, "Keep On Truckin' Team Jayden." The Facebook page has more than 30,000 LIKES and features an active stream of heart-warming first-hand accounts of kindness and generosity from all over the country.
Here's an example of a Facebook post by someone who was inspired by the Lambs' initiative: "I finally got the chance to 'Pay It Forward, Jayden Style,'" wrote Troy-Ciera Rill. "I was sitting in the drive-thru at McDonald's and bought a $10 gift card for the two guys in the car behind me. The [server] at the drive-thru was touched and I loved seeing the expression on their faces when she gave it to them! It's such an inspiration that your son has put on people. God Bless & Merry Christmas!"
Then, on Dec. 4, the Lambs learned of the engagement ring that was donated to the Salvation Army in honor of their son. In a joint statement to Yahoo! Shine, the Lambs said, "We were shocked and amazed that someone would do this. We know that this ring, at one point, meant everything to someone. The fact that they would pay it forward with the ring is so amazing."
Nearly 2,000 people celebrated Jayden's 9th birthday on Dec. 12 with a Chinese lantern ceremony, during which they released hundreds of floating lights to "send a birthday party to Heaven."
"Even though we are still grieving with the loss of Jayden, this is helping us cope and heal," the Lambs added. "We feel so blessed that our community and those outside of our community would do something in Jayden's honor. To have his name and his legacy still be carried out even after he has gained his angel wings in Heaven is so amazing to us."
The Lambs hope that the outpouring of love, kindness and generosity will continue long after the holidays are over.