The O’Neills just wanted to honor their daughter’s final wish, but once strangers caught wind of their plan, they decided to help spread the family’s goodwill around the world.
On the day Alyssa O’Neill passed away from a seizure, she asked her parents for a simple favor –- to buy her a pumpkin spice latte, TODAY reported. The spunky 18-year-old never had a chance to sip her favorite drink, so two days after her funeral, the mourning family decided to honor her request and take it one step further.
They purchased 40 lattes for strangers in a local Erie, Penn., Starbucks and just asked that the baristas scribble her initials #AJO on the cups.
The employees were so moved by the gesture that they bought another round of 50 coffees for customers.
But the pay-it-forward campaign didn’t stop there.
The #AJO movement took off on Facebook and Twitter and suddenly strangers started offering up random acts of kindness at cafes, and beyond.
Some have paid for others movie tickets and others have paid off layaway bills for Christmas gifts, according to TODAY.
Strangers have launched a pay-it-forward movement honoring Alyssa O'Neill, who never got the latte she requested on the day she died.
When a customer at a salon in Erie tried paying for her $23 treatment, she got a bill with a smiley face that read “Paid by another client. #AJO #payitforward,” according to the O’Neills' Facebook support page.
Those who are buying lattes and pizzas and other treats for strangers have been posting pictures of their acts of kindness to Facebook to help get the word out.
The family plans to continue to honor their daughter's memory by raising funds for the AJO Forever Fund, which will help families pay for epilepsy-related medical expenses, and will also serve scholarship fund for aspiring nurses.
"It's bittersweet;” Alyssa’s dad, Jason, told YourErie, “we're obviously mourning the loss of our daughter, but all the good that's come of this has really helped us through it.”
See photos of O’Neill and her family below: And get involved with the AJO Forever Fund here.