Growing up in a fairly average middle-class American family, I never went without food or decent clothing, and I always received birthday and Christmas gifts. My parents weren’t particularly wealthy, yet they were able to pay the bills; we had a solid roof over our heads and a sturdy shelter to protect us from the elements. I, like so many raised this way, took it for granted that everyone was provided for — that all children had toys with which to play. Then, I started working for children’s causes, and I discovered that my beliefs were badly flawed.

I am thankful, also, for caring people like you, who are right by my side on a journey to improve the lives of others.

Eyes opened wide

I will never forget my first visit to an underdeveloped country, where I witnessed incredible deprivation for the first time. The sight of thousands of tiny make-shift houses constructed of cardboard, wooden sticks, plastic tarps, and discarded pieces of metal and tin dotting the side of a barren mountain still remains as clear in my mind as when I first experienced it two decades ago. Likewise, I can still clearly see the face of the precious little girl from Eastern Kentucky whose ramshackle home I visited going on ten years ago now – her big, expressive eyes, the dirt on her cheeks, her disheveled hair, and the beautiful, heartbreaking smile she gave me, even though in reality, she had very little to smile about.

A life forever changed

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful, not for these deplorable situations, but for the fact that I had the opportunity to see them firsthand; and as a result, my life was forever changed. The poverty, hunger, and suffering that I had only heard about became very real to me when I saw these conditions in person; and I knew then and there that I would spend my life in service of others.

I am also thankful that I, personally, do not have to deal with being cold and thirsty and uncared for. I do not have to worry where my next meal will come from, or if my dwelling place will withstand a simple rain or wind storm. I do not have to question whether my children will have decent clothing to wear to school, or if I will be able to find transportation to my place of employment.

I am thankful, also, for caring people like you, who are right by my side on a journey to improve the lives of others. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we are strong. Together, we can change the lives of children and families all around the world, and offer them hope for their futures.

I am thankful in so many ways, and I am truly blessed.

From the heart,

Ronald H. Carter

President and Chief Executive Officer



You can sponsor a child in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child who is available for sponsorship.