by Bill Fitzgerald, CBS 6 News Anchor
RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) - No family exemplifies the spirit of giving this holiday season more than the family of a nine-year old girl who died of cancer last April.
To get through this first Christmas without her, Abbie Waters' parents are asking quite simply, can you do one act of kindness this week?
Judging from the emails to the Waters family that keep coming, people can. "Our second graders at Crestview Elementary are collecting money for children with cancer this year," reads one. "My 5-year-old daughter and I took new stuffed animals this week along with pajamas for teen girls to a shelter that assists homeless women and their children, " reads another.
It seems the community that wants to remember Abbie is growing. "I have also donated $1,000 in your name to ASK. Hopefully they can wrap their "arms" around a family in need this Christmas," reads a third email.
Much like the KMart "Layaway Angels" who anonymously pay for toys this Christmas, the memory of a little girl's valiant struggle against a rare form of childhood cancer is inspiring others to do their best.
"She had a heart of gold," said Holton Elementary School Principal David Hudson. "She cared about all. Even in her passing, she left a gift to the boys and girls in school to remember her by."
Hudson said Abbie Waters taught students and staff alike a powerful lesson. "Her passing, what I saw here, brought a lot of the students closer together and throughout the entire school year," said Hudson. "After she passed, we saw nothing but acts of kindness."
Abbie's parents Mary Ann and Jeff didn't want to speak on camera Thursday and say they are not seeking publicity, just a way to keep their beloved daughter's memory alive. "Her spirit is really alive, man." said Hudson. "It really is. It touched us all here in a different way I think."
Just read the emails.
"Jamie" saw an older woman sadly telling her two grandsons she couldn't pay for the treats they'd picked out at the store. "The boys were so sweet about it and put their choices back. I pulled the $5 out of my wallet that I was planning to use and gave it to the woman."
Now that's a gesture Abbie would have appreciated.
If you'd like to tell Abbie's family about a gesture you've made in her honor, send an email to AbbieWaters@aol.com