What Is Christmas Like for an Unsponsored Child?

For many people, Christmas is a time of celebration and thanksgiving — a time filled with family and steeped in tradition. It is a time of praise and gratitude as we reflect on the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

For a child in poverty, Christmas can be very different. It may reinforce the hopelessness they experience daily; it can be a vivid reminder to parents that they are unable to provide for their children. It can be a day to get through instead of a day to enjoy.

Thanks to your love, thousands of children around the world who live in poverty do know of the hope of Christ and wait, just like any other child, in anticipation for Christmas Day.

Christmas for children registered in our programs is a celebration. Our centers usually have Christmas plays and music. Children are given special gifts, which are purchased through our Christmas Gift Program. When the children are presented with these gifts, they are told that the gifts are from you.

group of children being given gifts with one boy smiling and showing his gift

Of course, not every child registered in our programs has a sponsor. There are many children still waiting for someone to choose them. Our Christmas Gift Program ensures that every registered child, sponsored or unsponsored, receives a gift. Unsponsored children are told that the gift is from someone who cares about them very much.

That said, is there any difference at Christmas for a sponsored child and an unsponsored child?

The answer is yes.

Unsponsored children attend the celebration held at the center and receive Christmas gifts. Technically, unsponsored children receive all the benefits a sponsored child receives …

Except a Christmas card.

Most sponsored children also receive a card or letter from their sponsors at Christmas.

Many of you know that writing your sponsored child truly makes an impact. God uses your letters and words of encouragement to pierce hopelessness and to dry up the lies that attack your child.

How much more could your words mean during a season that celebrates the birth of our Savior?

I asked our Country Office staff, and staff from our child development centers in Ecuador who work closely with the children, to answer some questions about this.

I first asked, “What is the reaction of unsponsored children when they don’t get a Christmas card?” Each person had a similar response:

“They wonder why they don’t get a letter or a card. Of course we explain the situation to them and tell them it’s because they don’t have a sponsor, but that’s not enough for a child. This is something that makes unsponsored kids feel very sad and even discouraged. They start to say things like, ‘Why can’t I get a letter too?’” — Yovi de Racines, Secretary of “Camino de Santidad” Mission (This mission includes several child development centers in coastal Ecuador.)

“They feel frustrated and wonder why other children get a card and they don’t. This is really frustrating because it creates an evident difference between unsponsored and sponsored children.” — Betty Estacio, Country Office staff member from the northern region of Ecuador

“They feel left out and suddenly they find themselves wondering why they don’t receive anything. That’s when we explain the situation to them. We tell them it’s all because they don’t have a sponsor, but we also tell them they will receive special things in the near future. Of course that’s not totally enough to them, but at least makes them feel better. They feel sad until they finally forget about it.” — Maricruz Garófalo, Center Director of Puerta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) student center in Ecuador

I also asked our staff, “How do the sponsored children feel when they receive a card from their sponsor?”

“They feel extremely excited and that excitement is the result of knowing someone cares for them in a genuine way. They think and feel that other people who live so far away care for them through the distance. “ — Betty Estacio

“First of all, they feel a rush of joy. They feel happy and very important. Generally, all the children show their cards to their friends.” — Yovi de Racines

“It is thrilling to see the joy in the little kids’ faces because many times the sponsors write about the things they do on Christmas and some of them are way different from what we do here.” — Mireya Benalcázar, Secretary at Puerta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) student center in Ecuador

“Christmas is the most special time of the year for the children, so I believe greeting cards are a huge motivation to them, especially when they come from their sponsors. This simple detail can really motivate a child to keep on writing letters to his/her sponsor and make him/her feel loved and taken care of.” — Romel Cerda, Center Director of New Jerusalem student center in Ecuador

We know the impact a Christmas card can make in the life of a child, especially a child still waiting for the love of a sponsor.

group of children in costumes for a Christmas program

If you are a sponsor and you have written to your sponsored child and/or you have contributed to the Christmas Gift Program, thank you. The hope and joy you are bringing to a child in need this Christmas is immeasurable.

As for the hundreds of unsponsored children who will not receive such a card, will you help us bring hope and joy to them this year?

We’ll tell you how you can help tomorrow.

28 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sarah April 22, 2011

    Does every Compassion country office collect up Christmas cards for unsponsored children? I wasn’t aware of this, but I don’t mind sending out a packet of them to the address above, if the UK office doesn’t do this. I was thinking I might get a bunch of nice cards, or handmake some, say 10 or 12, put a photo of me and my husband in each, with a Christian bookmark, and prayer card in each one, with a Christmas message of hope and encouragement. All non-specific so they can be distributed accordingly. When I know more about my sponsored child’s friends, and friends who are not sponsored, I wonder if I might send a few non-specific ones to her, ahead of Christmas, for her to share with unsponsored friends. I’d like to send something encouraging/nice paper gift to her Mom as well, when I know more about her Mom.

    1. Brianne April 28, 2011

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment! What a great idea for a Christmas card 🙂 I am looking into your question and will update you with what I find!

      1. Brianne April 28, 2011

        Hi again 🙂
        I recently heard back from our Sponsor Correspondence Supervisor. Currently, Compassion International, located in the US, is the only office that receives letters to be distributed to unsponsored children for Christmas. Please send your Christmas cards to the address listed above. Thanks again!

  2. Diana November 30, 2010

    Today is November 30th and I just came across this. I would like to send some Christmas cards for unsponsored children this week. Is it too late? Also, I feel bad as I have procrastinated on this for my two sponsored children and just sent email Christmas letters as I was afraid cards wouldn’t arrive in time. Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

    1. Brianne Mullins December 1, 2010

      Hi Diana! Thanks for your desire to write to unsponsored children! Unfortunately, November 29 was the last day to create a Christmas card for unsponsored children via DaySpring and last week was the deadline for cards created on your own to be received at Compassion International.

      Concerning any Christmas cards you send your own sponsored children, we request that these cards be in by October 31 due to the translation process. All that being said, your sponsored children will receive the letters you wrote them via email although it is not ensured that they will reach them by Christmas. I am still grateful you wrote them (even though they might not get your letter by Christmas). I am sure it will still be a blessing to them when they do receive your letters 🙂

  3. Beth November 16, 2010

    Thank you so much for answering my question, Brianne. I was just getting ready to put the cards in the mail box and you helped me realize I did not put my sponsor ID on the card. God bless you and thanks again 🙂

  4. Beth November 9, 2010

    This will be my first Christmas as a sponsor. I work at a Christian Preschool and all of my students and coworkers are going to make Christmas cards for the unsponsored children.

    For my own sponsored children, do I just write their sponsor number on the inside of their Christmas card?

    1. Brianne Mullins November 10, 2010

      Beth, congratulations on being a sponsor for the first time during the Christmas season!

      For your own sponsored children please your sponsored child’s name, the sponsor child’s number and your sponsor number somewhere on (or inside) the Christmas card.

  5. Marianne November 8, 2010

    Hi- I sponsor 2 beautiful girls in Hondaurus. I often send them little packages filled with girlie things like journals, stickers, flash cards, math worksheets, bible coloring sheets, hairbands, etc.
    But I didn’t really know that I could send Christmas cards to unsponsored children- I happen to have a dozen or so cards that I can send to other children.
    Could you please tell me how to write the cards out- do I put a name on the card, do I send them to the Colorado address?
    Please advise- I would love to touch the hearts of other children who so desparately need to feel Christ’s love.
    Thanks- Marianne in South Florida

    1. Brianne Mullins November 8, 2010

      Hi Marianne. Thank you for your heart to bless unsponsored children (as well as your own sponsored children)!

      For the cards you would like to send to unsponsored children you can sign it with your name or your family’s name but obviously, you will not have the name of the child so you cannot put that on the card.

      Send these cards to this address:

      ATTN: LaVerne B., Sponsor Correspondence Team
      Compassion International
      12290 Voyager Parkway
      Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3668

      Please include a cover letter explaining the letters are for unsponsored children.

  6. Valerie Long November 7, 2010


    I do have 2 correspondence children already, thanks. 🙂 With my 7 sponsored kids, I don’t feel I should take on more correspondence children at this point as I’m in school on top of working so I have a hard enough time making sure I get letters out regularly to the 9 I have.

    But I do think the correspondence child option is a wonderful thing! In fact, those two are two of my prolific writers out of all my kids. 🙂 And perhaps once I’m done with school, I’ll take on more correspondence children. 🙂

  7. Megan – Faith Like Mustard November 3, 2010

    Sounds like our family will have a new Christmas tradition starting this year! 🙂

  8. Debbie Beghetto November 2, 2010

    I would like to help the unsponer children so they can get christmas card along with little surprise. where can I help?

    1. Brianne Mullins November 3, 2010

      Debbie! Thanks for your willingness to help out! Please read this post which gives a solution to how you can send a Christmas card to an unsponsored child this season!

  9. Valerie L. November 1, 2010


    Thanks for posting that information on your blog. I happen to have a 5-day weekend this weekend as I was supposed to go on a small trip and that fell through so perhaps I”ll take some of that time to get cards together and sent out for the unsponsored children.

    These are the times when I wish I had even more money and could sponsor more children! But, until that time, at least we can let the unsponsored ones know that we care, even if we can’t take on more financially!

    Thanks again for posting that information.

    1. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies November 1, 2010

      Valerie, you can also become a Correspondent Sponsor. You write to children whose sponsors do not want to, and you do not pay a monthly sponsorship fee. I have more info about that on my blog, on the Letter Writing 101 post you can find listed along the sidebar.

  10. Stephanie November 1, 2010

    I can’t wait to until tomorrow when we hear how to help… I want to send cards to my child’s entire center!!!

    1. Kees Boer December 15, 2010

      Well, Stephanie, you can probably contact Compassion and find out how many children there are in that center. But don’t be suprised, if it is a lot. I even know of one center in Bolivia that has 800 children! 🙂

  11. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies November 1, 2010

    Ken, you actually CAN write to unsponsored children through the Canadian Compassion headquarters. There is a group o Our Compassion which has all of the info.
    We also send extra goodies to our sponsored kids and ask them to share with others in the project. This is a good way to promote the Christian value of sharing and bring some cheer.
    I posted about the Christmas Cardsfor Unsponsored kids on my blog: http://meeshimama.blogspot.com/2010/10/christmas-cards-for-unsponsored.html And we have a HUGE envelope of cards that I will send out next week. We got all of the kids in our homeschool co-op involved and they loved it.
    These letters and cards are SO important. Feel free to check out my blog for lots of ideas and inspiration when it comes to letter writing and sending goodies!

    1. Ken M. November 1, 2010

      I just checked out your blog. I have some children’s Christmas cards that I can send out this week. Once again, Thanks.

    2. Ken M. November 1, 2010

      Thanks for the info. I will definitely take a look at your blog. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s blog, too.

  12. Kate Sanderson November 1, 2010

    What about unregistered siblings of sponsored children? Do they get to attend the party and get a gift, too?

  13. Ken M. November 1, 2010

    After reading this, a blog I read a few years ago came to my mind. The writer didn’t like sponsorship programs because it created division and jealousy between children who were sponsored and those without a sponsor. I see how that can happen. I wish we could write to unsponsored children and send them a word of encouragement to let them know someone cares for them, too.

    1. Kees Boer December 15, 2010

      Ken, this is a very difficult topic. I’ve thought about this a lot, because I tend to write my children about every 2 weeks and then many of them I visit regularly. This doesn’t happen to most children. I’m not sure what to do about it, because I do feel that we as sponsors can make and should make a huge impact on our child’s life. I’ve written with several of them and encourage them to encourage the other children in the projects.
      I had the privilege of spending quite a bit of time in the projects in Bolivia and though children are sad when they don’t get letters, I really haven’t seen jealousy though. Maybe that is just the Bolivian culture, I don’t know.
      But whenever we help someone, there is always someone who doesn’t get helped. It can paralize up, but we can also use it as an opportunity to help the other person, that we’re helping to reach out to their surroundings and start helping others and that way we have a multiplied effect.
      This is actually what Jesus did too. He spent time with the 12, and specifically 3 of them, Peter, James, and John. He strategically even avoided being with certain people to build in these 12 men. The result was that He had an effect on the whole world of that time. (Col 1:6,23) Even the unbelievers in Acts 17, refered to the message as to what “turns the whole world upside down.”
      I hope that helps. (I feel like I was rambling a bit)

    2. Melissa Benson November 16, 2010

      You CAN write to unsponsored children. Join OurCompassion and look up the group Encouragement and Hope to learn more.There is a group of us writing to unsponsored children every month. We send our letters through Compassion Canada right now.Wed love to have you join us!

      1. kate November 14, 2011

        can I do this via the website? I’d love to participate

    3. Beth L November 1, 2010

      From the Sept 2010 Advocates Newsletter:

      Christmas Cards to Unsponsored Children

      Groups and individuals may send Christmas cards to unsponsored children, but only during the Christmas season, which for the GMC are the months of September, October and November. Some guidelines to follow:
      The letters/cards should be generic so that they may be given to any child.
      Include a cover letter explaining that the letters are for unsponsored children. Sponsors may specify the country, but otherwise, the letters will be split among several countries.
      Send the letters to:
      ATTN: LaVerne B., Sponsor Correspondence Team, Compassion International
      12290 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3668

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