May 24 has become a bittersweet day for Margie Carr.
Two years ago today, Carr and her husband, Jim, brought home two adopted daughters from Bombay, India -- Amla, now 9, and Mary, now 3. They joined a brother, Charlie, now 4, also adopted.
One year ago today, Jim, a firefighter, died of cancer. He was diagnosed with the illness just three months after the girls came home.
Now Carr is honoring her husband and the family they created by helping other families. She has started the Jim Carr Memorial Fund for Adoption with the Douglas County Community Foundation to assist couples with the costs of adopting a child.
"I was in a position where I could do this, and I thought it would be a good way to honor him," she said.
The Carrs received help when they adopted Amla and Mary. The Building Families Fund of the Topeka Community Foundation gave them $7,000 to help pay the adoption costs -- about one-third of the total expenses.
"Jim came from a large family -- he had eight siblings -- and I had six kids in my family," Carr said. "We had Charlie, and we thought it sure would be nice for him to have siblings."
But the Carrs pledged they would repay the kindness they were shown by the Topeka foundation.
"That was how I got the idea to do this," she said. "We thought if we would have the chance to give back, we definitely would."
After Jim Carr died, his wife decided to make good on the pledge. Using money inherited from her father, combined with some of her husband's life insurance settlement, Margie Carr set up the $10,000 adoption fund. It has been matched by $5,000 from the Kansas Health Foundation.
"It's absolutely tremendous," said Sara Corless, director of the Douglas County Community Foundation. "Most people want to feel they're making a positive difference in the lives of others. This is a wonderful way to do that, and I hope her example encourages others."
It's money the family might have been able to use itself. Carr is a stay-at-home mother, finishing her doctorate in education this month at Kansas University. She plans to find part-time work soon.
"We'll be all right for a while," she said.
She hopes instead the pot of money for adoption will grow.
"The foundation we started here won't be able to help as much (as the Topeka foundation)," she said. "But maybe someday."
She said she'd be pleased if the money aided children in need of parents. Carr has stark memories of her visit to the Bombay orphanage where she met Mary and Amla.
"There were so many kids there," she said. "And we were in one orphanage, in one city, in one country."
She also hopes other families can experience the joy she has felt with her family.
"My kids are so great," she said. "People tell me, 'You saved their lives.' But they've saved mine this last year."