Opportunities to perform a random act of kindness present themselves every day. On November 10 at an Oceanside, California Trader Joe’s, 28-year-old Matthew Jackson seized the chance to do something kind for a stranger. A day later, he was dead, and now the woman he helped is finding a way to pay it forward.
That’s the least young mom Jamie-Lynne Knighten could do. The young man made her promise to pay it forward after covering her $200 grocery bill at the busy Oceanside store. Touched by his kindness — and heartbreakingly unable to thank the kind stranger in person — she has kept her promise, setting up a Facebook and Twitter accounts to encourage others to share their stories.
“[He] asked me to pay it forward that night and that is what I am trying to do,” she recalled, according to the Huffington Post. “The response is more than I could have ever imagined! He has touched so many lives all around the world.”
And Jamie wasn’t the last person to benefit from Matthew’s generosity. Twenty-four hours after he paid her bill in Oceanside, he was killed in a car wreck while driving a co-worker whose car had broken down, CBS News reported.
It all began in early November in Oceanside. Knighten and her 5-month-old son, Wyatt, were navigating the unfamiliar grocery store, the Los Angeles Times recounted. The baby was being fussy, and to make matters worse, her credit card was declined at the register while a long line waited behind her. While trying to call her bank and wondering if she could dash home to get another card, he stepped up.
“Matthew steps up to me and said ‘May I?’ and I said ‘May you what?'” Knighten recalled. “He said ‘May I take care of your groceries?’ I told him ‘No,’ and that it was a very large purchase. He really wanted too. He said, ‘You just have to promise that you’ll do it for somebody else.'”
Knighten remembered seeing something in his eyes — genuine kindness. Jackson worked as a fitness trainer and didn’t make too much money, so $200 was a lot. His mother, LeeAnn Krymow, remembered that helping others was just part of his personality.
“I knew my boy was like this. He loved to be kind. He was just a really special kid. So cute, so intelligent, so talented, an accomplished musician. You wonder why these things happen.”
A week later, she was able to call his place of work, intending to thank Jackson for his kind act and possibly give him a gift. Manager Angela Lavinder gave her the shocking news that he had died in a car accident, wrapping his car around a tree not far from the Oceanside Trader Joe’s where he and Jamie crossed paths for five minutes.
“And I put the dates together and it was the day after I met him. I was at a complete loss. I wanted to honor this man. I wanted… people to know what he did for me.”
Jackson’s simple request to Jamie that she pay it forward isn’t going unfulfilled. Shortly after learning about his tragic death, she contacted his mother with the idea for Matthew’s Legacy, which has two profiles on Facebook and Twitter. There, everyone can read Jackson’s story and share their own random acts of kindness to celebrate his life, reported ABC News. Krymow is touched and happy that her son is being remembered for his good works. Perhaps, she told the Times, something good will come of his death: others will pay it forward in his honor.
“Matthew was always special to me. He was really intelligent, good looking…he was every girl’s prince charming. He was known for being a gentleman. He loved people. He had a heart for people and so much compassion.”
[Photo via Matthew’s Legacy Facebook]