Holiday Season, 1998

Dear Friends,

It is with great joy that I send you my warmest wishes for the holiday season and all the snowy days and nights to come (for some of us).

This year, just like those past, the holidays seem to have bestowed upon me a youthful energy.  I don't know if this is a result of all the times I have seen "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story," but I always seem to have an overwhelming feeling of optimism and love for my fellow inhabitants on planet earth at this time of year.  I think it really comes from all of my special holiday memories of time with family and friends, sparkling moonlit snow on midnight sledding adventures and late night chats, all of which I associate with the warm feeling of being "home." 
In my frequent travels I have experienced a vast array of villages, cities, mountainside huts and overpopulated one room lean-to's, all of which people call home.  In fact, with all my moving I have often wondered what characteristics are the essential ones which make a place home.  I believe it is a combination of family and friends.  I think home is an environment more than a location.  Home comes with people who you can trust and let your guard down around.  I feel at home when I am comfortable in my environment, when I am safe and loved.  Whatever or wherever home is for you, I think that Dorothy said it best in The Wizard of Oz, "there is no place like home."

As many of you know, a year ago I spent three and one half months doing volunteer work in Guatemala.  Over the past year I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my experiences there and it has helped me realize how blessed we all are to have wonderful families and homes here in the U.S.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.  Thirty percent of the children I worked with in Guatemala are currently homeless.  The other seventy percent live in families which are so poor that they must set out to work each day to help their parents put food on the table.  The Escuela de la Calle, or `Street School', with which I volunteered, helps these children by finding families for those without homes and by holding classes in the afternoon and early evening so that all of these children may get a basic education, as should be the right of every child. 

It is in the spirit of holiday cheer and goodwill that I write to you to ask for your help in sending the `Street School' a special gift this holiday season.  As many of you know, hurricane Mitch devastated much of Central America just a month ago and as a result the children who attend the `Street School' are faced with a time of critical need this year.  The school desperately requires repairs and the students count on the hot lunch they get at the school each day. 
Please be a part of a wonderful project this year and give $20 to the Street School of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala this holiday season!  Forget my Christmas present this year and send some money to those who really need it in Guatemala!!! (Feel free to send more than $20, I just thought that would be a good starting point!)

Please make all checks payable to `Dylan Stearns' (Editor's note: at this point it would be easier to send your check to the address on "Contact Us") and I will send one BIG check down to the Street School in time for Christmas.  I swear this is not a scam!  I am poor, but they need the money more than I do.  The reason I ask that you to send the check to me is that it costs the directors money for each check they cash, therefore they save money by cashing only one check.

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful donation and again, happy holidays!


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