Prepare for a roller coaster of emotion. Sad: A nine-year-old boy from Kingston, Ontario, Blake McGinness, planned to hold a yard sale to sell off his toys to raise funds in order to buy his dead father buried in an unmarked grave a headstone that his family couldn’t afford. Relieving: Local Kingston residents and the internet stepped in and took care of the issue. Heartwarming: Blake McGinness went through with the yard sale anyway and plans to donate the revenue to charity.
Blake’s father, Rick Lees, died of an unexpected stomach aneurysm in March 2009 and when the estates were settled, the family didn’t have enough money to cover the headstone, having to bury Lees in an unmarked grave. Blake regularly visits his dad’s plot, leaving his own toys and mementos at the grave.
The story first made rounds on Toronto talk radio station CFRB on Monday morning, reaching clothier Tom Mihalic and he generously offered to pay for the headstone even though he never met the family. The president of a Toronto-based monument company, Michael Levitt, called the radio station and got into contact with Mihalic and Blake’s mother, Linda, offering to build the monument.
As the story bounced around Canadian media outlets and the internet, nine companies offered to supply the headstone free of charge. As the story made its rounds, people were offering so many donations that Linda actually went to a bank and set up an education trust for her son that he can’t touch until he’s 18. Wife of Tom Cochrane, frontman for the Canadian rock band Red Rider, as well as various sports stars who wished to remain anonymous, got in touch with the family wanting to donate memorabilia for Blake’s yard sale.
Stuffed animal collectors saw the picture of Blake holding the doll from Ice Age and offered to pay much more than the doll was worth in order to boost Blake’s yard sale funds. Even more endearing, Linda’s cellphone wouldn’t stop ringing with people calling to offer help and pledge donations, as the family doesn’t have a computer because, in display of struggling single parenthood, “Buying food and clothes comes before a computer.”
The internet being notorious for grief and trolling, it’s really great to see its denizens mobilize for a good cause.