The question our sponsorship staff encounters most frequently is, “Can I write my sponsored child?” followed swiftly by, “What can I send my sponsored child?”
We think both these questions are fantastic! They show that you take your sponsorship seriously — often sending positive thoughts or prayers to your sponsored child, and wondering how he or she is doing. Your desire to connect with your sponsored child and bless him or her with additional gifts is one that warms our hearts … and your sponsored child’s, too!
Generally, the answer is yes, you can write your sponsored child, and yes, you can send extra small gifts. But, there are a few stipulations, mostly designed to ensure your sponsored child and his or her family remain safe and successful in our programs.
Here, we’ve created a “10 do’s and don’ts” list regarding correspondence with your sponsored child.
What you can send your child varies slightly from country to country, but generally, if your sponsored child lives in China, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti, Mongolia or India, you can send hand-written cards or letters to your sponsored child.
Unfortunately, sponsors of children living in Ethiopia and Uganda are not able to send personal letters at this time. In these countries in particular, fairness and equal distribution of resources is critical to maintaining the positive relationships the staff have formed with families. If one child receives a letter while another does not, it could cause feelings of jealousy within the community. In order to avoid favoritism and encourage healthy working and learning environments, program staff request that no letters come to children or families in these programs at this time. However, there are some ways you can still give to your child. See #7 below!
2. Do tell your sponsored child about yourself and your family!
We encourage you to write about your family, activities you enjoy together and what life is like where you live. Sponsored children like to hear about your town, if you attend school, what you do for work, if you have pets, and other details that help them get to know you.
Avoid giving personal and specific contact information, like your address, phone number or specific place of employment. While you are welcome to write statements like “our family enjoys attending church” or “we are praying for you,” we ask that you please avoid language that directly evangelizes to children, such as “Jesus died on the cross for you.” Because we work in many countries with diverse religious beliefs, or even in countries with laws about how and where religion can be practiced, evangelical statements can be dangerous or confusing for a child — and potentially threatening to our relationship with that program as well. It can also alienate a child from his or her sponsor and Holt’s programs and services in the region. Finally, please refer to yourself as your sponsored child’s friend or sponsor, as other relational designations can be confusing.
4. Do include small gifts or photos.
You can also include a photo or yourself or your family, and small gifts that can be mailed in a flat 6×8 inch envelope like stickers, bookmarks or paper coloring pages.
5. Do keep mailed materials child and culture appropriate.
Please avoid sending pictures in which someone is holding an alcoholic beverage or sending your child photos of your family or children in swimwear, which can be considered immodest in many of the countries where Holt works. We do screen letters for content and appropriateness, including photos.
It is quite rare that Holt provides actual money to children or families — but, rather, their enrollment in our programs helps them access things like paid school fees, uniforms, medical care or supplemental food. For that reason, we do not allow sponsors to send money directly to their sponsored child.
7. Do give gifts that impact your sponsored child’s entire family or community!
If you would like to give your sponsored child a gift above and beyond your monthly sponsorship contributions, we welcome you to donate to our birthday or Christmas gift fund, which helps Holt throw a birthday celebration or provide Christmas gifts for the children in our care. These events are joyous and fun and serve as a time of bonding and celebration. We encourage sponsors of children in Ethiopia and Uganda to donate in lieu of letter writing, and the message you include with your donation will be shared with your sponsored child and his or her entire program. You can also send Gifts of Hope to help a family in your sponsored child’s community.
8. Do send your mailed items to Holt International’s office.
All mailed items are screened and mailed in bulk from Holt’s headquarters at 250 Country Club Road in Eugene, Oregon, 97401. We will open and check letters, photos and other materials to ensure they follow our guidelines.
9. Do let us know if you have questions or concerns.
Do call us if you have specific questions about an item you would like to send your sponsored child. Our sponsorship team is always happy to answer your questions! Call us at 1-800-451-0732.
10. Don’t forget to tell your friends, family and community about Holt sponsorship! It can make a life-changing difference to a vulnerable child or family.