Kids are doing inspiring, heartwarming, and over-the-top incredible things for clean water, so we created an annual award to celebrate these Tiny Heroes.
A Tiny Hero’s greatest superpower? They can turn anything into clean water.
A month’s worth of rice and beans for dinner. Five-minute tea parties. T-shirts that say, “I like bugs, but not in my water.” With their powers combined, these heroes have brought clean and safe water to thousands of people across the globe.
Grab your sunglasses. The future is bright with this year’s class of Tiny Heroes leading the way.
Jala & Aalia
Ian & Team Orange
Auckland, New Zealand
If you’ve ever tried (and failed) to assemble your own furniture, you’re not alone. Jala and Aalia started their business, the Flatpack Girls, to give adults a helping hand. But they didn’t stop there. These sisters donate a portion of everything they earn: 10% goes to a local charity, and another 10% goes to charity: water.
“Over the last year, we have built cabinets, bookshelves, barbeques, desks, beds, and even gym equipment. If we can help by sharing what we’ve earned, then we want to make sure we do.”
— Jala & Aalia
Colorado, United States
When Jordan decided to do a birthday fundraiser for clean water in 2021, her parents agreed to match what she earned, thinking it’d be around $500. Jordan, though, had bigger dreams. She wrote letters. Baked cookies. Made lemonade. And raised $5,000—10x the amount her parents expected! Together, they were able to sponsor an entire water project in Nepal.
“People want to do helpful things. Sometimes, they just need to hear about it in different ways. I loved seeing how people came together, and that they were so interested.”
California, United States
Ian, Matthew, Andrew, and David are martial artists with a side hustle: improving their economic and leadership skills through the Core Maker program. They created Orange, a company that produces quirky hats, ties, and aprons. When it came time to select a nonprofit to support with their work, Ian, who had recently read Thirst, suggested charity: water.
“All of us on Team Orange believe it is important to help others. We are very lucky to have access to clean water, and we hope other kids in the world can have this basic need.”
— Ian & Team Orange
Act cool. You’re about to meet some legends.
These heroes may not be tiny anymore (we’re looking at you, 6-foot-tall Nathaniel), but their impact is enormous. With creativity, commitment, and a whole lot of heart, they paved the way for future kid-fundraisers with some unforgettable campaigns.
Most likely to exceed expectations
“My pitch as a 7 year old was essentially, ‘This isn’t fair.’ Here I am, a 7-year-old child, and there are seven-year-old children in a different country dying because they do not have access to a basic human right. It felt like, ‘I have clean water. They should have clean water, too.’”
— Max SRead more
Most likely to never eat beans again
“I’m living in D.C. and interning on Capitol Hill. That’s where this has led me to. And I think that’s probably true for every child when you support their passion to change the world. It’s going to evolve into even more meaningful things as they get older.”
— RileyRead more
Most likely to become Super Bowl MVP
“Spending the first four years of my life drinking dirty water in Ethiopia, and losing my baby brother because of it, made me want to help make sure no more kids die. Working with charity: water over the past 11 years has helped me feel like I’m helping.”
Most likely to fill you with holiday spirit
“charity: water is so special to me because it opens up the opportunity to better the world to anyone. Even when I was little, it gave me the chance to have a real, positive impact on people’s lives across the world. That’s pretty cool.”
Most likely to show up at your front door with a popsicle
“In fourth grade, a teacher talked about World Water Day, and another teacher talked about wants versus needs. So when it came to giving up birthday gifts—sure, every 8 year old wants the new Nerf gun or the new action figure—but it’s not about ‘wants’ for people without water. You need water. I took those lessons to heart and decided that I could give up my wants if it helped somebody else get what they actually need.”
— NathanielRead more
Most likely to throw an awesome party
Most likely to team up for clean water
Most likely to have a TED talk
“charity: water was my way of giving back to my people in Ethiopia by helping change their lives. I may not save every life, but I will fight for them all!”
Most likely to become a fashion mogul
Most likely to become poet laureate
“To me, being a Tiny Hero means that you’re someone who is willing to make a change. You’re someone who sees a problem that someone else has, even if you don’t know who they are, and you want to help them. You’ll sacrifice your time, effort, and resources in the hope of bettering others. It doesn’t matter how much money you raise or how many people you help. The only thing you have to do to become a Tiny Hero is to help solve a problem that doesn’t affect you.”
— AravRead more
Most likely to pass along the inspiration
“Missing out on presents is a bummer, but helping others is actually better. Seeing my brother do it inspired me, and I hope reading this inspires you. Seeing smiles on the faces of those we helped gives me a warm heart.”
— AadhyaRead more
Most likely to become a lemonade tycoon
“I liked how I felt involved and that I could actually make a difference. And I liked when people came up to me, smiling at this kid that was actually trying to make a difference. I hope I inspired them to know that everyone can make a difference.”
Most likely to be knighted
Most likely to go viral
“Seeing kids without access to clean water made me both sad and angry. How is it possible that we all don’t have clean water to drink when water is such a necessity for life? I’m so thankful my parents introduced me to charity: water and gave me a way to raise money.”
Most likely to end up in MoMA
“I hope that some of those people I was able to help might now have a chance at a future that, before, was not possible. It was fun. It made my heart so happy knowing that I was able to help some people.”
Most likely to be recruited by global ad agencies
“charity: water has made me feel very proud. I feel honoured and privileged to have worked with them. I felt like I was part of the charity: water team and like I was making a difference to more than just a couple of people.”
— Lula Grace
Most likely to get you to pledge your allowance
Most likely to win an Oscar
“If someone said that kids are too young to make a difference, I would go get my siblings and tell them, ‘Watch this. We’ll prove you wrong.’ Even though we’re small, we can do a lot.”
— NoaRead more
Most likely to change the world with $8.15
“Here’s my message: Kids can make a big difference. Kids are strong. Kids can do what a kid’s gotta do. You don’t need to do something big and fancy. Just do what you need to do. This water crisis is huge. People need water. They don’t want it; they need it. And you can make a big difference.”
— NoraRead more
Most likely to be seen with his violin, “Jupiter”
“I love charity: water because of how they work to advance the world.”
Most likely to go above and beyond
“After the sudden death of my baby brother, I wanted to help others in his name and leave a lasting legacy. I plan to do whatever I can to help kids everywhere get clean water.”
Most likely to save the planet
“I like giving money that I make from my recycling business because I think everyone in the world deserves clean water. Even a little bit of money can make a big difference.”
— JosiahRead more
Most likely to design your favorite tote
“All kids deserve clean water.”
Most likely to become a ukulele sensation
“What's better than helping other people by doing what you love? Thanks to charity: water, I got to do that and you can, too!”
Most likely to invite you to tea
“I saw that other people don’t have fresh water, and I felt sad. They must be thirsty. So I decided to raise some money to help them.”
Most likely to inspire you with new tunes
“Clean drinking water is not a privilege, it is a basic human right.”
When a wish becomes a legacy.
In 2011, Rachel asked family and friends to celebrate her 9th birthday by donating $9 to her fundraising campaign. She raised $220, almost enough to reach her goal of bringing clean water to 10 kids, and planned to try again the next year.
One month later, a tractor-trailer smashed into a car that she was riding in with her mother and younger sister. The accident took Rachel’s life.
As reports of the accident began to spread, so did news of her birthday wish. Rachel’s $220 quickly grew to $1.2 million. Today, Rachel and the community she inspired have changed the lives of more than 100,000 people.
July 23rd, 2021, marked the 10-year anniversary of Rachel’s death, and we knew we couldn’t let it pass without a tribute to one of the original Tiny Heroes. She inspired this award. Whenever we think of Tiny Heroes, we’ll remember Rachel’s incredible life and honor her legacy.
Click here to see more of Rachel’s story, including her mom’s trip to Ethiopia to see some of the wells funded by her birthday wish.
These incredible sponsors funded several water projects in honor of Tiny Heroes!
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