Paying It Forward in Honor of Lauren

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*NEW* The phrase "pay it forward" was put into action Tuesday morning, while Jessi Bellard was working the drive-thru at Sonic.

"Everybody was shocked at first," said Bellard. She found herself telling customers "the person in front of you paid for your order and the person in front of them paid for their order. I told them exactly what happened and everybody just felt like they should pay for the next person behind them."

The breakfast time trend lasted through eight cars; exactly what organizers of Lauren's Random Act of Kindness Day had in mind.

Today would have been Lauren Landmark's 17th birthday. She died last month in a car accident. Her friends and family wanted to mark the passing of this day, but in a way that celebrated her life rather than mourned her death.

By the start of school at Hammond-Oliver, news of the Sonic kindness reached Lauren's principal.

"A lady stopped by to say 'I need some of those little cards.' Uh about what? 'The random act of kindness.' Well we don't have any cards about that. She went through the sonic this morning," said Hammond-Oliver High School Principal Judy Hughson.

Lauren's friends and classmates handed out cupcakes

"I think that's a really neat thing that you're doing," said a teacher after receiving freshman Kallie Mallett's cupcake.

Employees at Papa Perez gave gift cards to unsuspecting customers.

"My kitchen staff, one of them wants to give ya'll a seven-dollar gift card as his act of kindness for the day," Mike Perez told a table of customers.

"I think that's what today is about and it helped me because obviously I can't help but be sad that Lauren's not here, so it's a bitter sweet day and it's nice to see people living the way she would have," said Lauren's mother Leena Landmark.

The Landmarks passed on a birthday balloon today, not to lauren, but to a stranger. Kindness that today, touched a community.

"It's so nice to see people step forward and think of things to do for others. Not for themselves, but in memory of a friend who would have done the same thing by the way, Lauren would have done the same thing," said Hughson.

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Just a month after all the painful decisions that followed burying her oldest daughter, Leena Landmark was faced with another: how to survive what would have been her oldest daughter's 17th birthday.

"When your child dies, holidays and birthdays, you just wonder what are you going to do?" said Leena Landmark. "I didn't want that day just to pass without remembering her."

Remembering who Lauren was, became just as important as how.

"She was really big on always helping others whether they knew it or not," said Rudder freshman Kallie Mallett. Mallett was Lauren's best friend.

"She always just kinda tried to lift people's spirits and I think that's what everybody really liked about her," said Mallett.

Lauren's loved ones are using her birthday to continue her practice of helping others and have dubbed Tuesday, April 20th as "Lauren's random act of kindness day."

"Like taping quarters to a vending machine for the next person to come through," said Mallett.

"If you're going through Chick Fil-A and you tell the cashier 'I'd like to pay for the lunch behind me,'" said Landmark.

Mallet said BISD high schoolers already got an e-mail about it. She is also spreading the word via facebook and text message; turning what could have been a very sad day into a cause to celebrate.

"I think that it really does show how to honor Lauren and I really, really am excited about it," said Mallett.

If you commit a random act of kindness or think you may have been the recipient, Lauren's mom and friends would like to hear about it. You can leave a comment on kbtx.com, or copy and past the facebook page link below.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=10150157647490705&ref=ts

Though any good deed qualifies as an act of kindness, here are just a few examples of what you can do on Lauren's special day to show your kind heart.

1) Read a book to a child.

2) Visit a nursing home.

3) Drop off a note with an apple to a teacher or school employee.

4) Donate blood, food or clothing.

5) Write a complementary note and put it in your child's and/or spouses lunch.

6) Say something nice to everyone you meet today.

7) Drop off a cake or cookies to a Fire Station, Police Department or Emergency Room in your neighborhood.

8) Send a note or email to an elected official to thank them for their dedication and service.

9) Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say "Hello."

But if you want to keep your good deeds going, you could sign up to be a volunteer.

If you're having a difficult time deciding where or how to volunteer, the Volunteer Center of the Brazos Valley through a partnership between the Brazos Valley Council of Governments and the United Way of the Brazos Valley, you can can put your skills to work for the betterment of others.

www.volunteerbrazosvalley.org