"Nine-year-old Rachel Beckwith didn't live long enough to reach her goal of raising $300 to bring clean water to African villagers. She died in a 13-car accident on Interstate 90 in Bellevue, Wash., last week, the Seattle Times reported. Since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars have flowed into the charity page she set up shortly before her accident, with more than 9,000 people contributing $368,000 to Rachel's cause.
The 9-year-old told family and friends she didn't want presents for her June 12 birthday, only donations to the non-profit Charity Water.
"I found out that millions of people don't live to see their 5th birthday," Rachel wrote. "And why? Because they didn't have access to clean, safe water so I'm celebrating my birthday like never before. I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday. Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations."
Rachel had only raised $220 by the time her birthday came, so she closed the page. But after the tragic accident, Rachel's pastor at Eastlake Community Church, Ryan Meeks, brought the page back up andpublicized it on the church's website. As news of Rachel's cause spread, more and more people found and donated to Rachel's page, many leaving personal comments about how touched they were by her selflessness.
"Thank you for your generous heart and for inspiring such generosity in others," wrote an anonymous donor who gave $45 to the charity. Another donor who left $9 wrote: "Say hello to my Jesse."
Rachel's mother Samantha Paul posted on Monday that she was in "awe" of the flood of support. "In the face of unexplainable pain you have provided undeniable hope," she wrote. "I know Rachel is smiling!"
Rachel was on life support after the accident, and her church is raising money to help the family pay those medical bills here. Rachel's fresh water donation page is here."
This article definitely brought tears to my eyes. At the tender age of 8, Rachel wanted to make a difference in the world; to help people she has never heard of, who live on a completely different continent. I don't know about you, but I know plenty of "grown" adults who wouldn't be able to fathom this concept of selflessness at 25, 30, or 40. Some people are simply born with an undeniable gift to influence and inspire the people around them, as little Rachel obviously was. Through her tragic death she has been able to spread her message to thousands, if not more, and hopefully ignite a spark in everyone who reads her story to get out and do something that benefits someone or something else.
I truly believe if we all focus a little extra energy on one good deed a day or even week, we would not only feel better as individuals, but our world would be a better place. I'm definitely not trying to get on a soapbox about saving the planet; by world, I mean our individual "worlds" or communities. Little things can most definitely have an impact on the world at large, however immediate benefits from little things (daily deeds as I like to call them) can be seen in your local community. Rachel's story has definitely inspired me. I'm going to focus more on daily deeds for my local area (as well as the same larger organizations I take part in). To accomplish this goal, and hopefully motivate you as well, I'm going to create a weekly post about good deeds/philanthropy that occur during each week - think Music Monday, but with it's own clever title of course. If you have any suggestions you would like to contribute, feel free to leave comments and I will definitely add them to the posts!