AAI | News & Info – Kids Helping Kids
Extraordinary Hope Leonard
Hope Leonard is eight years old, and has touched the lives of hundreds of children in Ethiopia. You see, Hope's only Christmas
wish for 2005, was that every child at Layla House and AHOPE in Ethiopia would receive three pair of new underwear. That's it.
No Furby, Barbie doll or coloring book from Santa, only underwear for these orphaned children.
"We adopted Hope in 2003, and now have this unusual challenge every Christmas," said Sharon Leonard, Hope's mother. "Last
year, Hope told the mall Santa she wanted 'peace on earth' and nothing else. The year before that she asked for enough food to
feed all the hungry children who live in orphanages." Actually, Hope wanted 11 sisters from Africa for Christmas, but she knew
that was a pretty huge wish. "I know it's hard to live in an orphanage, because I was in one in China for a long time," Hope said.
Sharon knew they couldn't provide 480 pair of underwear for Hope's wish for Christmas, so she shared Hope's story with her
church and adoption e-mail friends. "I thought Hope's wish was so unselfish, it was important to share it with others," said Sharon.
"Maybe people would think more about the real meaning of the holidays, and do something special this year." And that they did.
Within hours, Sharon began receiving e-mails from people, saying they were greatly affected by the story. Underwear began
arriving the next day, and soon, 3,000 pair had arrived to give to the children at Layla House and AHOPE. "I can't explain the joy
and excitement that overcame Hope as the gifts of underwear stacked up in our living room," said Sharon.
Needless to say, Hope was thrilled to be able to personally deliver, 3,000 pair of underwear to Layla House and AHOPE in April
2006. In addition to the underwear, Hope and her sisters were also able to bring clothing, toys, shoes, medical supplies, art
supplies and balls of all size. Even 100s of marbles! All thanks to the generous donations of so many people.
Hope almost got her other wish fulfilled too. Although not eleven sisters, her family did adopt a sibling group of four from Layla
Christmas 2006 hold even bigger wishes, as Hope again plans to return to Ethiopia with more surprises for the children who wait
The Leonard Family at Layla House after their four new children joined the family, with the help of the GRACE Fund.