Lucy's eighth birthday is December 1, 1954, the same day her mama dies leaving her an orphan. Lucy's cruel uncle and aunt throw her out of the apartment in Bowling Green, Kentucky she had shared with her mama, and into the street.
That night, cold and alone, Lucy prays to the baby Jesus lying in the manger of the Nativity scene in front of the Methodist church. She cries out for His help, protection, and love. Later, she drifts into a restless sleep, huddled near the fountain in Fountain Square Park. In the night, Lucy awakens shivering, but a huge dog lies down beside her and keeps her warm.
The next morning, she meets an old man, and the dog and the old man help her in her search for someone to love her and keep her safe.