Working in the contact center, I speak to many sponsors who ask for directions for sending a package to their sponsored child. Regrettably, packages can’t be sent. However, you can send a monetary gift — an option many sponsors I speak with are unaware of.
We do not accept packages, primarily because of customs and duty costs. In most cases, the cost of shipping and duty would exceed the value of the gift. Also, the risk of theft or loss of the package while in route is very high.
We send all of our mail through customs as “documents.” There isn’t a fee for shipping a document. However, if customs opens one of our boxes of letters and finds a piece of jewelry, they will hold that entire box of letters until they receive the customs fee for that item. This can cause letters to be unnecessarily held for long periods of time.
Each day, we receive items that we are unable to ship. Our correspondence team is in charge of contacting you to see if you would like the item returned or donated to a local charity. Doing this is quite a task as these items tend pile up fairly quickly.
I understand that it’s disappointing not to be able to pick out your child’s gift and send it directly. Putting the thought, time and effort into sending a gift conveys love and sometimes “just” sending money seems impersonal. But if you’re willing to spend the money to purchase items here in the U.S., won’t you consider forwarding the money to your sponsored child? The money you send helps stimulate the economy in your child’s community, instead of here in the U.S.
Why should I give a gift?
The simplest answer I can give you is that it blesses your sponsored child and the child’s family and is a way to meet the needs in their lives. Monetary gifts to your sponsored children mean new outfits, their first pair of shoes, or the beginning of an income-generating business for the family.
Last fall, I sent a family gift to my sponsored child, Angela, in Bolivia. Incredibly, she and her family were able to buy so much with what I sent. With $75 American dollars, they were able to purchase a blue jean jacket, undergarments, a wool poncho, a jacket, a skirt, school materials, shoes for several members of her family, food supplies and a backpack for Angela’s brother, Jose.
The child development center staff even sent a picture of Angela with her family and everything they bought. Letters acknowledging the gift are sent every time a gift is received, but not everyone receive pictures.
If you send a gift of more than $60 you will receive a picture of your sponsored child posing with what was purchased.
I want to send a gift to my sponsored child. How does it work?
After we close our books for the month, our finance department receives a list of all the gifts given during that month. For most countries, we convert the gift into the country’s currency and transfer the funds to the country office’s bank. Some of our offices will either have their bank make the exchange from U.S. dollars to the local currency, or they will just use U.S. dollars.
Once the country office receives the money, a staff member transfers the funds to the respective child development centers. Some centers receive the money by check and some receive it directly transferred into a bank account. This entire process can take two to three months.
After the center staff receive the money, they set up a meeting with your sponsored child. In the meeting the staff member informs the child of your gift and discusses what some of the child’s and family’s needs are.
Next, your child signs for the gift to acknowledge that it was received. They then head to the market where the staff member helps your child purchase the items.
Finally, your sponsored child will write you a letter letting you know what was purchased and possibly include a picture, depending on the amount of the gift and your child’s center.
If you do not receive a letter within six months of sending your gift, please contact us. We will contact our country office for more information.
What kind of gifts can I send?
You have a few different options for sending a monetary gift. You can send $10 to $100 as a birthday gift or general gift up to two times a year and $25 to $,1000 as a family gift.
A birthday gift will be just that — a birthday gift for your child. When you send a family gift, the child and his or her family decide together what to purchase. A general gift can be sent for any reason and can used by the child or family to purchase what is needed at that time.
You also have the option of donating any amount, we typically suggest $20, to the Christmas Gift Program on your sponsored child’s behalf.
Although other gifts can be given any time of year, we request that gifts to the Christmas Gift Program be given by October 31, 2010 to ensure that the gifts are delivered by Christmas.
Wow! This is so great, Shaina! I am going to send a gift every month.
That’s actually not the best idea. Your sponsored child’s family most likely lives on less than $2 a day and a monetary gift will mean quite a bit to them. To help avoid creating a sense of dependence on your gifts we discourage doing this. Also, monthly gifts can lead to jealousy within the community and put your sponsored child and family at risk.
I really want to send my child a gift, but I can send only $5 this month.
The cost associated with processing the monetary gifts means we can’t accept gifts for less than $10. I encourage you to set your $5 aside, join it with another one of its $5 friends the following month, and then send the gift to us.
When I was little, I had the cutest teddy bear. I really want my sponsored child to have the same thing.
While you are welcome to suggest what you would like your sponsored child to purchase, the child makes the final decision regarding what is purchased. If your sponsored child is too young to make the decision on their own, the child’s family will help with the decision.
So do you have to send a gift to your child?
No. Does it bless them and their family incredibly? Yes. Emphatically, yes.
We originally published this post on Aug. 9, 2010. The italicized text reflects new correspondence guidelines.