Dear Friends,

Ringing bells put me under a spell of gratitude this time of year. Street bells, church bells, jingle bells – they all get to me. I hear them with my heart, and my heart is happy.

But I do not – I cannot – hear them the way Alana hears.

Alana lost most of her childhood to abuse and neglect. The adults in her life failed to protect her; she was shuttled from house to house, no one paying attention – until she delivered a baby at age 13.

At that point Alana came to us; specifically, into foster care with Ms. Linda. And that’s where Alana noticed the bells –

Little bronze bells, tied together on a cord of red velvet. They dangle from the front door handle at Ms. Linda’s home and clatter with the comings and goings of family.

For Alana these bells are the musical measure of a life she’d never imagined – trips to the movies, to school, to a ballgame with friends, to church, to the grocery store. Celebrating the holidays. And she hears the bells with her heart, in a way only she can.

Alana is 17 now, and we can’t undo what happened to her childhood. Nor can we change the hard truths about her future: Alana is never going to be adopted; she will age out of foster care.

But we can surround her as family. Because Alana will always have a home – the home with door bells that jingle. She may go to college (with help from our higher-education program) or get a job, but she will always come back to Ms. Linda for holidays, for celebrations, for comfort. And you don’t need adoption papers for that.

I thank God for grace and for kindness, for hearts that can hear. And I thank God for you. Your gift this Christmas will help children for whom our world has not been so kind.

May God bless you and your family now and through all seasons of the year.

Peace on earth, good will to all.

Bruce E. Stanley, President / CEO