Paying it forward: Random acts of kindness through a message in a bottle

Updated: Apr. 18, 2018 at 5:25 PM EDT
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The Spalding family poses for a picture with the McGee family's message in a bottle. (Source:...
The Spalding family poses for a picture with the McGee family's message in a bottle. (Source: McGee Family)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A family who lost their son on March 30, 2012, due to stillbirth is working to keep his memory alive through random acts of kindness.

Kara and Marshall McGee were pregnant with their first child, Nolan, in 2012. They were heartbroken after they lost him at birth.

"It was a death that we really didn't get closure on," Kara said.

A year later, their son Ronan was born, also in March. In 2017, they welcomed their third son Beck, another March baby.

"Every year we do a family celebration in March to celebrate, but keep Nolan's memory alive," Kara said.

McGee heard of an idea called the Five Dollar Fairy from her friend in Charlotte. The family stuffed $5 bills into envelopes and passed them out to random people.

"My family decided to join in on this cause and we went around to random people and places," Kara said. "(We) put the story of Nolan inside with the money, and the hashtag #Nolan'sGift."

In April, the McGees took it a step further and tried something a bit unique.

"On the first of April, we put a message in a bottle along with $5 and a note about Nolan and how we are spreading acts of kindness," Kara said. "My son Ronan threw the bottle off the Kure Beach Pier."

The family waited, not knowing if or when the bottle would ever be found.

Three weeks later, Kara received the following message on Facebook:

"Dear Kara & Marshall, We found one of your messages in a bottle today at the Point on Bald Head Island. I initially grumbled because I thought someone had left their wine bottle on the beach and then I saw the message inside. I waited until my children and husband joined me on the beach to open it up. I cried as I read your message aloud. We were all touched by your story. Blessings to you all and to Nolan. We will do something special with the $5 and we will also set the bottle, your note and an additional note from us free when we get home to Newburyport, Massachusetts. I can't wait to see where #nolansgift travels next. Much love to your family. Sarah, Tim, Grayson, Sadie & Sam.

"We couldn't believe it," Kara said. "You never know who you are going to be handing this $5 bill to or who is gonna find the bottle. Five dollars may be what they need at that moment."

After finding the bottle, the Spalding family plans to pay it forward when they get back home to Massachusetts with the hashtag #NolansGift.

"It's amazing," Kara said. "The family is taking it way beyond our wildest dreams and imagination with it. We were just hoping to see where it ended up but for them to continue it is amazing to us."

The Spalding family also donated the $5 to Bald Head Island's Sea Turtle Protection Program.

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