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Record-Setting Donations Help CSI's Children

Child Saving Institute's annual Dough in the Toe fundraiser brought tremendous support from donors, new and recurring! Because of your generosity, we raised more than $50,000 to help children who have experienced trauma, neglect, and abuse find hope and healing! Thank you!


Letter from Dough in the Toe Chair Melanie Hecker

Dear Friends,

When Child Saving Institute (CSI) asked me to chair the annual “Dough in the Toe” fundraiser this year, the answer was simple...“yes!” Supporting this effort on behalf of the kids gives me the sense of coming full circle. I am a CSI baby. When I was two weeks old, my parents Judy and the late Stan Hunt brought me home from CSI to their farm outside Douglas, Neb. It was Halloween night 1969 — stormy and scary!

As a child, I didn’t think too much about being adopted. As an adult, however, I have thought about it a lot. In my case, CSI helped one child and two families! My birth mother, Cherie, participated in the agency’s program for young, unwed mothers. She lived in an apartment complex with other young pregnant and mothering women like herself and participated in pregnancy counseling and a career program. My parents became parents through CSI. CSI needed a little “Dough in the Toe” back then to be able to provide those services and care for babies. I’m honored to be able to give back now and keep the cycle going!

I feel lucky to have been chosen by my parents. I feel lucky Cherie made the choices she did. When I met her for the first time more than 20 years ago, I thanked her. I’ve never felt she gave me up. I’ve always believed she gave me an opportunity. She gave me the opportunity to have a wonderful life in a kind and loving home. She gave me life in a small town with people who instilled the kind of values that are most important in life. She gave me happy family memories.

The “Dough in the Toe” campaign used to include a baby sock to represent the agency’s cradle care babies, but the face of adoption has changed over the years. What remains the same is the need for “dough” to help and support all the kids CSI serves, including those kids who are in need of Forever Families and young women and men experiencing a similar situation as Cherie. I’m hoping for three things:

1. That you’ll join me and help CSI’s kids and families by donating to “Dough in the Toe” and supporting the 14 services and programs the agency offers, which help kids overcome trauma, abuse, or neglect.

2. That, when children who’ve received CSI services become adults, they can look back and recall memories of fun times with their families, as I do.

3. That together, we can ensure CSI continues to help metro area families this year, next year, and well into the future.

I’ve always said I am lucky to have two mothers: one who gave me life and one who gave me a life. CSI is the foundation for that statement. Please help me make certain that the kids and families of tomorrow can rely on that foundation for another 48 years and beyond.

All my best,

Melanie Hecker

“When I first learned that Melanie got involved with Child Saving Institute many years ago, I was pleased because we adopted her from the agency. Of course it’s so much different now, but it continues to serve children and families with excellence and great leadership. They have so many programs today to help kids, it’s impressive!”

~ Judy Hunt, adoptive mother


“Experiencing an unplanned pregnancy can be very emotional and difficult for anyone, but when you are a single young lady without a job, it is traumatic. Placing Melanie was the hardest decision I ever made. I wanted her to have the best opportunity to pursue her dreams and talents. I feel blessed that Child Saving Institute helped me through it. Their guidance, understanding, and diligence in finding a safe, loving, and supportive family for Melanie comforted me — knowing she would be well cared for and loved.”

~ Cherie Dubay, birth mother

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