Late last week, New York Times op-ed columnist, Nicholas Kristof wrote a touching story about the power young people have to influence the world around them for good. He focused on the story of Rachel Beckwith – a nine year old from Seattle who’s life was sadly cut short by a car accident this past July.

As young as she was, Beckwith’s life was dedicated to compassion and service. She donated her hair to Locks of Love at age 5 and raised money to build wells in Africa through charity: water. As Kristof wrote:

This has been a depressing time to watch today’s “adults,” whose talent for self-absorption and political paralysis makes it difficult to solve big problems. But many young people haven’t yet learned to be cynical. They believe, in a wonderfully earnest way, in creating a better world…In the midst of this grim summer, my faith in humanity has been restored by the saga of Rachel Beckwith. She could teach my generation a great deal about maturity and unselfishness.

Rachel had set up a personal campaign with charity: water in honor of her ninth birthday. Her original goal was to raise $300 to support clean water projects in developing countries. After her death this past summer, the donations have come pouring in and, to date, her campaign has raised over a million dollars. (You can make a donation to Rachel’s page here.)

Rachel was a force for good in life, and continues to be one after her death. Her story illustrates, as Kristof put it, that “youth activism has a long history, but this ethos of public service is on the ascendant today.” May her memory continue to be a blessing.