A local mom is spreading random acts of kindness this holiday season in honor of her daughter, Maya, who lost her battle to leukemia in October.
Magnificent Maya was her nickname and giving back to others was her game.
Maya Grace Collins, a feisty, sassy, 14-year-old with a huge heart, was known to crack a joke or do a funny dance even on her worst days, according to her mother, Bonnie Collins.
Some of Maya’s favorite things included sock monkeys, flamingos, the color blue, her dog Savannah, and Justin Bieber. When she wasn’t feeling well, she loved to pass out her Random Act of Kindness Cards, a movement started by a family in New Jersey that Bonnie had become friends with who had a daughter fighting the same type of leukemia as Maya.
“It always put a smile on her face,” Bonnie says.
In 2011, Maya was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia when she was just 7-years-old. After two bone marrow transplants, Maya remained in remission for four years, but unfortunately relapsed again in the summer of 2016.
A third bone marrow transplant proved her to be cancer free again, but the harsh treatments ultimately proved to be too much, according to Bonnie.
“Her organs sustained so much damage from all the chemo she had received that her little body just couldn’t recover,” Bonnie says. “She passed away in October due to failing lungs.”
Bonnie, head of her own Mason-based advertising agency, Bonnie Collins Design, was asked by the family in New Jersey to design the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) cards in honor of their daughter, Maya. The idea behind the card is to do an act of kindness for someone and hand them one of the cards. On the back of the card, the only instructions are to “pay it forward.”
After designing their RAK cards, Collins asked if she could steal the idea for her Maya.
“This year, after our Maya passed away, my older daughter, Annabella, mentioned right after Thanksgiving, that we should revive the cards in Maya’s memory and do the ’25 Days of Kindness’ over the holidays, a time when people are particularly stressed and kindness can sometimes be thrown by the wayside,” Bonnie says. “It has spread like wildfire in only a few weeks!”
Maya’s Kindness Cards made it as far as Singapore, where Collin’s husband bought a coffee for a woman who then posted about the kind deed on Facebook.
“She posted that she had a crazy morning of meetings and emails and was very stressed, but when she received the coffee and card from my husband, all of that melted away and she realized that none of that was important,” says Collins. “These cards are helping people to realize the “big picture” in life.”
The Collins family plans to continue spreading the RAK movement even after the holidays and are planning a fundraiser downtown in September, Maya’s birthday month.
“It is taking something horrible, and making something positive out of it,” says Bonnie. “Maya is bringing so much good into this world! I hope that everyone who uses, or receives these cards as an act of kindness, feels the love and learns how wonderful it can be to be kind and to give to others.”