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How Do You Honor a Child Who Always Put Others Before Herself?

A Seattle mom raises money for charity 5 years after the death of her young daughter

Published on: July 20, 2016

Rachel Beckwith died at age 9 but her dedication to service continues on | Photo credit: charity:water

When Rachel Beckwith turned 9 in 2011, she told her friends and family to skip buying her gifts. Instead, the Bellevue resident asked they instead donate $9 each to global nonprofit charity: water after hearing the organization’s CEO speak at her family’s church. 

“All the way home that day she talked about wanting to help kids around the world who didn’t have water,” says Rachel’s mom Samantha Bouch. “Part of what excited her the most was hearing about how easy it is to make a difference.”

Rachel came up just $80 short of reaching her fundraising goal of $300 and decided she’d try again next birthday. She didn't get that chance. On July 23, 2011, Rachel was killed in a car accident. 

After her death, those that knew her reignited her campaign. Rachel's story inspired thousands of contributions, ultimately raising more than $1.2 million and bringing more than 37,000 people clean water.

5 years later

To mark the 5-year anniversary of her daughter's death, Bouch, who lives part-time in Seattle, decided to launch a new fundraising campaign

“It’s the best way to honor what she was truly most passionate about,” says Bouch. “I know it’s exactly what she would have done.”

In 2012, Bouch traveled to Ethiopia to see a well tapped — one of the many funded by Rachel’s original campaign.

“It was so amazing to witness the joy of a community receiving clean water for the very first time,” says Bouch. “My trip allowed me the opportunity to truly see Rachel's impact firsthand.” You can see footage from the trip in this charity: water video but first, grab the Kleenex. 

Bouch's latest campaign is live now; she’ll raise donations until September 30 and hopes to hit $5,000. To get kids involved, Bouch recommends encouraging them to set up a lemonade stand, run a bake sale or commission pictures to raise money rather then only asking for donations.

“Getting kids involved at an early age shows them how their hard work can make a difference in someone else’s life,” says Bouch, recalling all the times Rachel donated her hair to Locks of Love and her insistence to purchase holiday gifts for families in need even if it meant she didn’t get a gift or two of her own.

“It was so amazing to watch because I never made her do any of it,” says Bouch. “Giving to others was just something she was wired to do.”

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