Writing letters to your sponsored child can give them the extra encouragement they need to persevere.
After a few letters, many times sponsors find themselves wanting to send more to their sponsored child than just a letter or a card, especially on special occasions like birthdays, Easter and Christmas.
When I started at Food for the Hungry (FH) more than six months ago, I too had questions about the gift list for sponsored children. The same questions sponsors have actually. Why couldn’t sponsors send clothes, toys and other items on the do-not-send list? What can be sent?
First, let me preface this blog with that if you do send us something we can’t send to your sponsored child, we’ll notify you. All gifts that cannot be sent are given to a local Phoenix charity that works with homeless and low-income families.
Clothes, Toys and Other Do-Not-Send Gifts
Here are the top five reasons why a gift is on the do-not-send list:
1. Jealousy: Well, I soon found out that some gifts were causing jealousy and tension in the communities we are serving. This makes community development difficult and counterproductive. Staff members were finding it difficult to help the community continue on an upward progression after certain gifts showed up. When you think about it, many of us have actually been in this situation in our own lives. As children, or even as adults, we all must have felt the little green monster of jealousy at some point or felt disappointed.
2. Culture: Cultural differences also play a part in the gift guidelines. What may seem appropriate here in the United States, may be inappropriate in a certain areas.
3. Economy: Certain gifts disrupt the local economy. We are in these countries to help, so when clothing or other items are sent, these gifts are sometimes sold at the local market. That means that local textile and other small businesses lose income, so we are now adding to the causes of poverty. In this instance, we are hurting and not helping.
4. Mailing: In the U.S., we are able to track packages and get insurance on items that we are sending. Even with tracking information, our packages end up in lost in the mail Bermuda triangle never to be heard from again. In many of the areas we serve, the mailing system is not secure and we can’t ensure that things like clothing, shoes, jewelry and other valuable items that are sent will make it to their intended destination.
5. Costs: We also make every attempt reduce cost in every way, so that we can continue to adequately fund and maintain quality programs and services to the families in the communities. We do not want to use funds, that can be used to expand programs, on postage and customs charges. Since larger items will need to pass through tough customs regulations, they will also incur extra charges. So, say a soccer ball may cost $5-$10 here, but after going through customs, it will cost significantly more than that.
So What Can You Send?
Gifts that would be appropriate to send to your sponsored child are simple: paper-based gifts that you can enclose in normal letters to entertain and educate your child are the best.
First, remember to keep everything as small and thin as possible. The general guidelines for enclosed items should be smaller than 8 ½ x 11 inches and less than 1/8 inch thick. This may seem very restrictive, but a little creativity goes a long way.
Some items that can be sent are stickers, bookmarks, coloring pages (not books), seeds, cardboard stencils, small cardboard puzzles, hair ribbons, sports cards and foam planes. Paper dolls with national outfits from your child’s native country and cloth friendship bracelets.
Cloth bracelets kits are available at craft stores. They are fun to make and easy to customize. You can make them in the child’s country colors. If you are really skilled, you may be able to weave the child’s name on the bracelet!
These are items that will mean a lot to them and will continue to remind them how much you truly care. If you have questions regarding correspondence, please call our customer service center at 1-866-307-3259. We are always ready to help!