Over the weekend I read Rachel Beckwith’s story and I was so touched by it that I knew I wanted to share it with my readers here at MNN. Rachel celebrated her ninth birthday on June 12, 2011, and she requested that friends and family donate money to charity: water in lieu of gifts. Here is the description that Rachel put on her donation page:

“On June 12th 2011, I'm turning 9. I found out that millions of people don't live to see their 5th birthday. 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. Even better, every dollar is "proved" when the projects are complete, and photos and GPS coordinates are posted using Google Earth. My goal is to raise $300 by my birthday, June 12, 2011. Please consider helping me.”

Rachel’s decision to forego gifts in the spirit of charity was admirable and not characteristic of most other children her age. Her generous motive is notable in and of itself, but there's another, tragic twist to this story. Unfortunately, Rachel was injured in a multi-vehicle accident in Washington last week and on Saturday she was taken off life support. 

Rachel’s church knew about her fundraising effort and decided to reach out via social media after her death to help reach the young girl's original goal of $300. The response has been amazing. When I checked her site on Sunday morning, the donations had topped $50,000.

Right now, 2,219 donations have been received totaling $121,573, enough to serve more than 6,000 people in need of clean water. People continue to donate in memory of Rachel and with 28 days left in the campaign, one could only guess how much money this one young girl’s request could raise for charity: water.

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