According to Compassion International, the late George H.W. Bush anonymously sponsored a then-7-year-old child for ten years under a pseudonym.
Compassion International is a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name” by employing a “holistic approach to child development” through a combination of “physical, social, economic, and spiritual care.” For ten years, the former president sponsored a boy named Timothy.
The money paid for Timothy’s “education, extracurricular activities and some of his meals,” according to a CNN report. The late president also expressed his affection for the child through regular letters. His first one was as simple as it was sweet:
I want to be your new pen pal.
I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already.
I live in Texas – I will write you from time to time – Good Luck.
Bush began his sponsorship in 2001 at a Christmas concert in Washington. The Christian musicians performing were supporters of Compassion and “would tell the audience about us, and ask them if they would like to sponsor a child,” according to former organization president Wess Stafford. “All of the sudden, Mr. Bush, who was sitting only a few rows back and surrounded by security, raised his hand and asked for a pamphlet.”
“His top security called me and said ‘this doesn’t surprise me coming from him, but if he’s going to sponsor this kid, we need to make sure the boy doesn’t know who his sponsor is.’ So, he signed all his letters to Timothy as ‘George Walker,'” Stafford said.
For security reasons, Stafford himself was tasked with overseeing correspondence between the young Filipino and his sponsor — but it was not always an easy task. “His letters were the most sweet, spirited letters I have read from any sponsor, but he kept giving hints as to who he could be,” Stafford said. “He was really pushing the envelope.”
“Timothy would send him hand drawings and told the President how much he liked art, so he sent over color pencils, sketch pads, and paint,” Stafford said. “I waited for my staff to go to the Philippines and send it with them. They would then bring it to the church Timothy was a part of, so he could collect his gifts.”
After graduating from the program, Timothy finally did find out the identity of his mysterious benefactor. “After a while, my executive assistant, Angie Lathrop, took over the sponsorship, and after Timothy graduated at 17, she flew to the Philippines to meet him,” Stafford said. “That’s when she told him who his sponsor really was.”
The organization has lost track of Timothy since he became an adult, but they are confident in his success. “We may not know where Timothy is, but we know he’s now living a successful life,” Stafford said. “Sponsoring a child, even if they are still in the womb, can encourage them and guide them to become great human beings.”