How a Pumpkin Spiced Latte Started a Movement of Kindness

One girl’s simple craving is changing the world

Alyssa O'Neill's simple request for a pumpkin spice latte begun the movement.

When 18-year-old Alyssa O’Neill passed away on Sept. 4 from epilepsy, she had no idea the inspiration and legacy she would leave behind. As reported by Th Huffington Post, it all started on the day of her death when O'Neill asked for a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, her last wish.

Although it was never fulfilled, O'Neill's parents decided to honor her wish by purchasing 40 lattes for strangers at a Starbucks in Erie, Pa., and asked that the baristas write #AJO on the coffee cups.

But the touching act didn’t stop there. Once all 40 lattes were purchased, there was another donation of 50 coffees by the employees. And at a hair salon in Eirie, someone’s bill was already paid and labeled #AJO #payitfoward.

All proceeds went to the AJO Forever Fund, "a dedication and tribute website to share memories about Alyssa and raise awareness about epilepsy." Since the donation of the pumpkin spice lattes, the AJO Facebook page and Twitter have rapidly increased the number of followers and spread the acts of kindness all over the world. 

Pay It Forward is a foundation that shares the different acts of kindness from donations to Locks of Love to tipping waiters $200. Their goal is to forever inspire these acts and spread awareness about the importance of these simple gestures.

Here are three ways you can pay it forward:

When you are waiting in line for your morning coffee, why don’t you offer to pay for the person behind or in front of you?

Or next time you are at a restaurant, give your waiter or waitress a little extra tip. It doesn’t have to be a whole $200, but a something little more is always appreciated.


You can even bake something and bring it to work. Share something homemade as a nice gesture and great start to your morning. Try these Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins that are perfect for fall flavors.