FARGO, N.D. — Eleven-year-old Sydney Leggio regularly scans the food court at West Acres Shopping Center. She is searching for someone with kids in tow, someone looking a little sad.
Once she spots a frazzled mother with a crying baby or a college student rummaging the bottom of their bag to pay for a coffee, Sydney and her father, Joe, surprise the stranger with a small gift card and a little card.
The gift cards are just enough for a snack or a meal. The card, the size of a standard business card, reads, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted," a quote attributed to Aesop.
The cards are in memory of Sydney Leggio's sister, Annie, who died of a rare chromosome disorder Oct. 20, 1998, 35 days after she was born.
"Those 35 days, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," Joe Leggio said. "It was a gift. I got to meet my child, and I got to hold her. I talked to her, and she turned her head."
The duo tries to stay anonymous and use the outings, which happen at least once a month, as a way to remember Annie.
Joe Leggio, who is working on a doctoral degree in education at the University of North Dakota, hopes to give more once he returns to work full-time. For now, the "small" gestures still garner big reactions.
Sydney Leggio says the reaction from the recipients is her favorite part of giving. She usually has Joe do the talking while she stands back to watch. Sometimes the duo doesn't even pick anyone out of the food court crowd and simply hands a gift card to a cashier to pass along.
Leggio had the idea of "spreading the kindness" after he read Cami Walker's book "29 Gifts."
"It's a great way for us to remember (Annie)," Joe Leggio said. "And we hope it starts a chain of passing along kindness."