2nd place: Laura Mowbray Schaible, Charleston

$1,000 will be given to Lowcountry Orphan Relief

Editorís Note: The names of the children have been changed to protect their identities.

It is a stark contrast indeed, as many of us gather around well-laden tables with family and friends during this season of thanks, to consider the situation of the children served by Lowcountry Orphan Relief (LOR).

If these children had a public voice, they would tell you of their gratitude for the nurture and caring shown to them by LOR, whose mission is to give children in distressed situations the utter basics that any child should be able to take for granted.

Malcolm would tell you how he came to school with ragged khakis and was discreetly shepherded to a supply closet stocked by LOR. He was given a new pair of pants and clean underwear. He was then able to sit at his desk and focus on learning rather than on all the ways he stood apart from the other children.

Tanisha would relay the story of how she was removed from her abusive home with just the clothes on her back and taken to the LOR supply warehouse. There she was able to select school clothing and pajamas that fit her, as well as a new backpack and school supplies. She picked out a stuffed animal, which she clutched tightly as she entered yet another foster home environment.

Brady appreciates the library set up by LOR at the childrenís shelter, where she can read to temporarily escape from the harsh realities of her own world.

The day-to-day suffering of innocent children affronts all but the coldest of sensibilities. While no one can eliminate their misery in one fell swoop as we would like to, LOR seeks to do whatever it can to improve their circumstances and let them know that someone out there DOES care. And for this, the voiceless children are so very thankful.