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Brother's Last Wish To Leave $500 Tip Turns Into Nearly $50,000 Charity

Aaron Collins, who wanted to leave a big tip.
Aaron Collins, who wanted to leave a big tip.

This good-news story began on July 9 with a blog post simply titled "My Brother."

Aaron Collins, wrote his brother Seth, "was the type of person that took great joy in unexpected kindness." And before his July 7 death, the nearly 30-year-old Aaron had made a request:

"Leave an awesome tip (and I don't mean 25%. I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress."

What the young man from Kentucky didn't leave, was much money. So the family created a blog called Aaron's Wish and a Facebook page to ask for help in making his dream come true.

Three weeks later, the family has collected nearly $50,000 and three lucky servers have been surprised with $500 gratuities. The Collins family members are posting videos as they spread the good cheer. Fair warning: you likely will tear up if you watch them. The second in the series is particularly touching. Waitress Chelsea Powell is clearly thrilled and appreciative.

The Associated Press adds that:

"Aaron Collins' death was unexpected. His brother said the family is still awaiting a final determination on the cause, but a preliminary coroner's report said strangulation contributed to the death. ...

"Seth Collins said the family has raised nearly enough money to do once-a-week tips for two years. So far he has given three big tips, and said he plans to travel outside Lexington for the next dinner. He has been thinking of other possibilities, like leaving big tips for coffee or pizza delivery."

Seth Collins has pledged, by the way, that:

"Absolutely every penny we receive will go toward nothing but this. We will pay to host the website. We will pay for the food. Absolutely 100% of the donations we receive will be given to random waiters or waitresses. Our goal is to do this once a week, for as long as you give us the opportunity."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.