Under the pseudonym, George Walker, late President George H.W. Bush extended his warm heart to a young boy in the Philippines.
But hardly anyone knew about his secret pen pal until copies of the correspondence were obtained through the nonprofit Compassion International and published by CNN on Sunday.
From 2002 to 2012, the president’s Secret Service team privately coordinated the handwritten letter exchange as part of a U.S.-based sponsorship program. For several years Bush Sr. sponsored a Filipino boy named Timothy.
In his first letter to the boy written in 2002, he wrote:
I want to be your new pen pal.
I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids.
I live in Texas — I will write you from time to time — Good Luck. G. Walker.
The 41st president found out about the program while attending a Christmas concert. During an intermission, some musicians asked the audience if they would like to sponsor a child.
Wess Stafford, Compassion president emeritus, told The Gazette:
“To everybody’s surprise, all of a sudden [Bush] raises his hand in the middle of his security entourage and says, ‘I want one!’”
“And all of these security people were like, ‘Has anybody screened this? Does anybody know if this is OK or not?’”
Concerned for Timothy’s safety, Bush kept his identity a secret and only dropped a few hints as to who he could be. In one of his letters he asked flat out:
“Have you heard of the White House?”
He told Timothy:
That’s where the president of the USA lives.
I got to go to the White House at Christmas time.
Here is a little booklet that I got at the White House in Washington.
Bush even sent him a picture of his dog, saying she met a lot of famous people.
“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.
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.”
Timothy finally discovered the real identity of his sponsor when he graduated from the program at 17.
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 17, 2018
The Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said the president quietly communicated with Timothy. McGrath said:
[He] had no idea — ever — that 41 did this, but not the least bit surprised. The kindest, most giving man.
Compassion International is a Christian organization that partners with local churches in 25 countries around the world. Their primary mission is to provide financial support, educational opportunities, and social services to property stricken communities in the poorest countries.
People can sponsor children, new moms, and expectant mothers. You can also donate, fundraise for the organization, or become a volunteer.
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