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December 18, 2018

Over the course of a decade, the late George H.W. Bush sponsored a boy living in the Philippines who had no idea that the money, letters, and gifts coming to him from the United States were being sent by a former president.

Bush learned about Compassion International, a nonprofit that connects sponsors with children from poor communities, in 2001, the organization's former president, Wess Stafford, told CNN on Tuesday. Bush's security team did some digging, and after vetting Compassion International, they agreed that he could sponsor 7-year-old Timothy. There were some rules, though; he had to use a pseudonym, to protect Timothy from someone who might target him due to his link to Bush.

For 10 years, Bush sent letters — signed "George Walker" — and funds that paid for Timothy's education, activities, and food. Stafford screened Bush's letters, describing them to CNN as being "the most sweet, spirited letters I have read from any sponsor, but he kept giving hints as to who he could be. He was really pushing the envelope." Bush sent photos of his dog, Sadie, and told Timothy that he was invited to the White House for Christmas. Timothy drew pictures for Bush, who in turn sent him sketch pads, colored pencils, and paint, even though gifts were not allowed.

Timothy didn't find out who his sponsor was until he turned 17 and graduated. He was stunned, Stafford said, never having a clue that his pen pal and benefactor was once the president of the United States of America. Catherine Garcia

May 1, 2015

A church in North Carolina received an offering that reminded the congregation why they come together to serve their community.

Pastor Patrick Hamrick of the First United Methodist Church in Charlotte said after their Sunday service, a group of counters processed the money that was offered that day. The secretary called Hamrick over to look at an unusual donation: One dime, a nickel, and three cents, inside an envelope. Written on the envelope was a note that read, "Please don't be mad. I don't have much. I'm homeless. God bless."

Every Sunday, the church feeds the homeless as part of their "Muffin Ministry," and it's likely the man ate breakfast there that morning. Hamrick found out the identity of the man and let him know that the community would love to help him, but he chose to remain anonymous. "He asked me to keep it between me, God, and the church," Hamrick told ABC News. "He's not upset about it, he just feels that he wants to be private." The fact that he decided to give something back to the church meant the world to Hamrick and his congregation. "It warmed our hearts because proportionally that gift could be an average middle class person giving $1,000," he said. "I feel like he gave everything he had that morning." Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2015

In the Johnson household, it's not unusual to hear the whir of a vacuum at all hours of the day.

Dylan Johnson, 14, is autistic, and his mother, Jodie, says he has always been fascinated by vacuums. When he's not watching videos about vacuums, he's talking about them, and Jodie decided to incorporate the household gadget into his recent birthday. In an email to the Kirby Company, maker of Dylan's favorite vacuum, she wrote: "I really would love to get a demo done for him this birthday. I do not want anything free, but as the mother of a special-needs child, it is so hard to find things to make my son happy."

Kirby not only sent Dylan a soccer ball, hat, and T-shirt emblazoned with the Kirby logo, but it also dispatched salesman Al Archie to Dylan's Virginia home for his party. Archie gave a vacuum demo and then told Dylan some big news: The brand new machine was now his to keep. "There was not a dry eye in the house," Jodie told WTVR. Dylan is still thrilled with his gift, and uses it so much that Jodie says she will likely always "have the cleanest carpets in Chesterfield County." Catherine Garcia

December 18, 2014

He was born with deformed front legs, but Derby can keep up with the other dogs now that he has prosthetics made with 3D printing technology.

Once she heard Derby's story, Tara Anderson knew there had to be a way she could help. She first purchased a cart for Derby, but that limited his mobility and made it difficult for him to keep up with other dogs. Anderson works at a company called 3D Systems, and she enlisted a team to get Derby up and running via prosthetics made by a 3D printer.

In no time, Derby's prosthetics were ready for use. "Having these images on file on the computer and being able to print them is a lot quicker than having to hand sculpt every single mold and rebuild those braces five or 10 times," says Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care. The team and Derby's new owners, Dom and Sherry Portanova, were all amazed by how fast he took to his prosthetics, and he now runs two to three miles a day. "He's just so happy," says Dom Portanova. Watch Derby in action in the video below. --Catherine Garcia

November 26, 2014

This Thanksgiving, all Neal Shytles wanted was to have dinner with family — any family.

The 54-year-old has lived in a Norfolk, Virginia, homeless shelter for two years, and said the holidays are his loneliest time. "It hurts every day of the year but on Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's 10 times worse being by yourself," he told ABC News. After talking with some friends from the shelter, he decided to put up a personal ad on Facebook, titled "Wanted: A family to share Thanksgiving with." He posted it to the pages of news sites in the area, and was interviewed by one of the stations.

Ashley McLemore watched the segment from Newport News, and she says that hearing Shytles' story "broke my heart." After conferring with her husband, McLemore extended an invitation to spend Thanksgiving lunch and dinner at her home, which Shytles happily accepted. Since his story went viral, the shelter has received an influx in donations, and Shytles has been invited to visit families across the U.S. He is looking forward to spending time in a "family atmosphere" this Thanksgiving. "That's all I ever wanted in life," he said. "I didn't ask for money. For me, it was never about the riches. I want something to take away the loneliness, where I can love people and they love me back." Catherine Garcia

July 23, 2014

Danny Nickerson is turning 6 on July 25, and for the price of a Forever stamp, strangers can make his birthday wish come true.

Last October, Danny was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a cancer resistant to chemotherapy. His mother, Carley, told KABC that doctors said less than 10 percent of children with this type of cancer live more than 18 months. "I don't really believe in that," she said. "He is doing great. Every day is a blessing for us."

Because of his illness, Danny had to leave kindergarten. He gets lonely, his family said, and one of the highlights of his day is going to the mailbox; now that he can read his name, he looks for it on all of the pieces of mail delivered to his family. On Facebook, Carley shared her son's love for receiving mail, and mentioned that he would be thrilled to get cards addressed to him for his birthday.

Since then, Danny has received 1,000 cards from across the world, with thousands more promising on Facebook to send a little something in time for his birthday. For information on how to send a card to Danny, visit the Danny’s Warriors Facebook page. Catherine Garcia

July 17, 2014

When Michael Sulsona's wheelchair broke inside a Staten Island Lowe's, his wife, Frieda, was concerned. That was before her husband reminded her: "We're in Lowe's. We're in the tool capital of the world!"

The couple planned on purchasing the equipment needed to repair Sulsona's wheelchair at home, but three employees refused to let them leave the store until he was comfortable and his wheelchair was fixed. "They tore the wheelchair apart," Sulsona told WABC. "They tried all different types of bolts. I was thanking them and they said you're not leaving here until the wheelchair is like new."

The Staten Island resident lost both his legs above the knee when he stepped on a land mine during the Vietnam War. He was just 20 years old. Sulsona has been using a wheelchair ever since, and was waiting "for longer than he could remember" for a new chair from the VA. Once his story went viral, the VA got involved and delivered a custom wheelchair to his house, telling Buzzfeed, "Too many veterans wait too long to receive their care and benefits, and this has never been acceptable."

As for the Lowe's employees, manager Troy Goins is not surprised that the trio went into action when they saw Sulsona. "Our associates go above and beyond to take care of the community," he said. "They think of them as family." --Catherine Garcia

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