Compassion International allows people to sponsor kids living in poverty around the globe—and for 10 years, George HW Bush quietly sponsored a Filipino child through the organization. Bush, using a pseudonym, was connected with Timothy, then 7, in 2002. "I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already," Bush wrote in his first letter to Timothy—one of a number of letters between the two that Compassion International recently provided to CNN. In addition to exchanging letters, of course, Bush also sent money that went toward Timothy's education and other needs. And he sometimes sent the boy physical gifts, like art supplies when he found out Timothy liked to draw, even though doing so is technically not allowed. He also drew his own pictures for the boy.
Bush was attending a Christmas concert in Washington in 2001 when the musicians, during intermission, talked to the audience about Compassion International. Bush "raised his hand and asked for a pamphlet," the former president of Compassion International tells CNN. It was Bush's security team who insisted the former president sign his letters to Timothy simply as "George Walker," mainly out of concern that the boy could become a target if anyone knew he was corresponding with Bush, but the organization's former president tells the Colorado Springs Gazette that Bush was constantly providing little hints as to his true identity, like when he sent a photo of his dog or mentioned that he was visiting his son who "lives in a big, white house." But it wasn't until Timothy graduated from the program at age 17 that he found out who his pen pal had been. (Read more uplifting news stories.)