FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno family is turning the memories of mourning their daughter into joy.
In 2005, Alyssa May Samansky was struck by a car and killed when she was only seven years old.
On what would have been her 24th birthday, her family is choosing happiness and asking the community to join them.
"I try not to remember too much about that first February when she wasn't here," said Alyssa's father, Aaron Sumansky.
This isn't the first February 4 that the Samansky family spends without Alyssa May. Each year on her birthday, they are reminded of the tragic November day in 2005 that she was killed by a driver in a grocery store parking lot in Northeast Fresno.
The driver took off and the Samanskys were left to grieve the loss of their 7-year-old daughter.
"It's a hard thing to cope with but time heals a little bit," said Aaron.
Over the years, the way Alyssa's family copes with her birthday has evolved into what they now celebrate as Alyssa May Day.
"Not having her here is painful every day, but we try to make certain days really special so that we remember how fun it was to have her around," said Aaron.
Now, every year on February 4, they call on the community and loved ones near and far to remember Alyssa by simply being kind. For the Samanskys, it's an all-day affair.
"We will leave big tips at the favorite restaurants that she used to have," said her father. "She loved to read, so we always go to Barnes and Noble or a book store and we try to buy gift cards for children and leave them at the register."
This year, the family also spent the day returning carts in the grocery store parking lot, helping customers load their cars at the store and sending treats to loved ones.
"A day to really care about people and think about the ones you are lucky enough to have still here and maybe the ones you lost," said Aaron.
Family and friends take part too by sharing the love on social media with #AlyssaMayDay. Pictures show them bringing in snacks for coworkers and buying coffee for strangers.
"It's really fun to go home when the day is over to go back through social media or the texts that we receive and see what everyone does."
Alyssa's family says they are blown away by the support and love all these years later, even hearing from childhood friends.
"It was just amazing to hear from the classmates that were in 2nd grade," said her dad. "These are adults now."
Alyssa's family says celebrating her birthday is not limited to Feb. 4. They are asking people to share acts of kindness on social media using the hashtag, #AlyssaMayDay the entire month of February.
Local family turns tragedy into kindness on #AlyssaMayDay
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