ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – When a University of Central Missouri student died in a car crash in early March, it left her family and friends devastated. In the aftermath, Erin Hook's family set up a Facebook page to honor her life and urge people to pay it forward by doing random acts of kindness.
Erin would have celebrated her 21st birthday Sunday. She and her sorority sister Jennifer Reeder as well a man from Clinton, Mo. named Paul Stankus were all killed after a head-on collision on March 1.
Erin's family set up the Facebook page in hopes of getting 21 people to do nice things this week. Instead, we're told more than 500 people have joined the page to do good deeds for others. In post after post, people all over the metro are sharing their random acts of kindness in honor of her.
"She served people every day in her life, so we wanted to do something that showed her love to other people," said Jamye Gudde, Erin's cousin.
She was studying at UCM to become a teacher, but her dream of a life helping others ended when she was killed in the car crash. To honor Erin's life and celebrate her birthday Carolyn Sampson took 21 cupcakes to her local bank and made 21 people smile.
"You think you're doing something great, but you get something more in return," said Sampson of St. Joseph.
Megan Weber made a pledge on the Facebook page to smile or say hello to everyone she passes. Ashley Smith's post says someone paid for her meal at Dunkin' Donuts on Monday.
"We stopped at gas stations and filled people's tanks up, and bought movie theater tickets and people were just in awe. Why are you doing this to me?" said Ron Hook, Erin's father.
Ron said his daughter would be so proud of this campaign because it was in her nature to help others.
"She did mission trips to Mexico that she set up on her own and participated in, and she got our church to get behind her," said Ron.
If you'd like to participate in the random acts of kindness to honor Erin, you can visit this link. You can also just say ‘Hello’ to someone, smile at someone or open a door for someone. Ron said he hopes friends and others will continue to pay it forward by doing random acts of kindness.