“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart
August, typically a month full of sweet summer moments, marks a profoundly sad time of the year for the Stern family. On August 24, 2016, Katie and Dan’s beloved son Toby passed away from SIDS. Even through the unimaginable fog of grief following his death, the family realized that they were incredibly blessed and surrounded by love from people near and far. As Katie, Dan and big brother Luke worked through their heartache, they felt an undeniable pull to do good, give back and pay it forward.
As they brainstormed ideas of ways they could honor Toby, who they had on Earth for a precious 12 weeks, they knew there was no better tribute to their beautiful, bright-eyed boy than kindness. A sweet nod to the little toy Toby always had with him and the decor lovingly chosen for his nursery, his family established The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation to carry on his memory, spread the love and joy he brought to his family, and support other families experiencing grief.
“It is our hope that Toby’s Foundation can bring happiness, laughs and lots of smiles to families here in Pittsburgh and beyond. That’s just what Toby did for us and that is the legacy that we want to carry on in his name,” Katie shared.
August is for Random Acts of Kindness
On August 1, the foundation is launching the third annual Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) campaign. The mission is simple: do something kind for someone, leaving behind a printable card to let others know that the kind gesture is in memory of Toby. Thoughtful things people have done in past years included paying for a family’s entrance to a local pool, giving an unexpected bouquet of flowers, delivering cookies, making homemade cards for a children’s hospital and even some simple acts like giving someone a spot at the front of a busy grocery store checkout line. Kindness doesn’t have to cost money — it’s truly the thought that counts. Toby’s Foundation encourages everyone to share their random act of kindness on social media using the hashtag #JoyForTobyStern to help show the broad impact their baby boy is having on people everywhere.
A mere seven days in the campaign in its very first year, #JoyForTobyStern reached almost every state, and by August 24, 2017, Toby’s story and legacy spanned the U.S. and to three other countries. While nothing will ever lessen their pain, Katie and Dan felt buoyed by this incredible effort in that first year following Toby’s death. They couldn’t count the number of people who received a RAOK in Toby’s memory and had personally reached out to them, wanting to learn more about their family’s story. Toby continues to spread love and kindness long after his brief time on Earth, and his memory will forever live on in the hearts of so many people.
Will you help us spread joy with Toby’s Foundation?
Want to spread #JoyForTobyStern? Here are some of The Motherhood’s favorite ideas we’ll be implementing and documenting:
- Sending a handwritten card to someone we’ve been thinking of
- Bringing breakfast to our local police and fire department
- Baking homemade banana bread for a new mom
- Leaving a coffee gift card on the bench at the park
- Donating hygiene products to nonprofits in need
The impact of Toby’s Foundation extends far beyond the month of August. The Little Fox supports families year-round by educating on Safe Sleep Practices and SIDS awareness and research, and donating Owlet Smart Sock monitors* to families across the United States welcoming an infant. And in May 2020, the foundation will be hosting its first fundraising gala at the Museum Lab in Pittsburgh!
We’re amazed at the incredible work Katie and Dan and their sons are doing on behalf of Toby. Be sure to follow The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation on Instagram and Facebook to stay connected during August and beyond!