Fairy garden sparks a friendship between strangers

Fairy garden sparks a friendship between strangers
Fairy garden sparks a friendship between stra... 02:26

Kelly Kenney was walking in her Los Angeles neighborhood one day when she came across a fairy garden. While staring at these tree trunk trinkets, she felt an alter ego emerging.

"On my way back to my apartment I was brainstorming ideas of what my name was going to be," Kenney said. "My imagination just kind of took over and I just started thinking, 'Well, maybe if I left a note as a fairy, that would be really fun to do.'"

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Eliana, 4, built a fairy garden in her Los Angeles neighborhood.  Handout / Kelly Kenney

The next night she did just that — she left a note for whoever built the garden. 

"My name is Sapphire," she wrote. "I am one of the fairies who lives in this tree." 

The next day, a 4-year-old girl named Eliana wrote back. It was the first exchange in what has evolved into a remarkable friendship — nine months of letters and presents and glitter galore. They exchanged photos of one another and turned a year of disappointment into a season of wonder.

Eliana's mom, Emily, couldn't be more grateful.

"We were constantly floored, like just completely floored. The gifts that she would give were just so personal, so kind, and we were just like, 'We don't even know you!'" she said. 

Eliana felt like the luckiest girl in the world. But what she wanted more than any present was to meet her friend. And that's when Sapphire remembered that fairies can, on very rare occasion, become human sized. So, earlier this month, she appeared.

"She turned around and saw me and I immediately was like, 'Are you Eliana?!' And she was like, 'Yea.'  And the way that she looked at me, I'll never forget that," Kenney said. 

Kenney said she was at a dark place at the start of the pandemic. But with a little imagination and kindness, she found her light. 

"I want people to believe that they don't have to be a fairy to give a little bit of magic to someone else.  And it doesn't have to be a child either," she said. 

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Kelley Kenney and Eliana met after months of exchanging letters about a fairies.  Handout / Kelly Kenney

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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.