Does Giving Gifts to Our Sponsored Children Make a Difference?

Sometime back, a commenter on another blog post asked questions about sending gifts to our sponsored children:

  • Do they make a difference?
  • Should we wait until we hear about a need?
  • Do the children appreciate our gifts?

One of my earliest lessons in the importance of our gifts came from Tausi (Tanzania). I began sponsoring her soon after her stated birth date (which later proved to be wrong, but…) and immediately sent a gift of $25.

A few months later, I received a thank-you letter for both her birthday and Christmas gifts. These are the gifts she listed: a dress, sugar, rice, soap, body oil, and her school uniform (required in many countries for enrollment).

Have you ever seen items like sugar, rice or soap on a kid’s wish list? I would never have known to specify that such items be bought!

And would I ever tell a child to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste for her birthday? Not likely! Yet, those also appeared in a list, one time.

Most of the birthday and Christmas gifts I have sent to Tausi have been spent on clothes, shoes, food and the like. But one time, in addition to a skirt and a blouse, she also bought a carpet for the family’s sitting room.

Later, I heard of the program Compassion had once run to buy goats for Compassion-assisted families (in Haiti, I believe). Not realizing that program had ended, I called Compassion to ask how I could buy goats for Tausi and Denisse (in the Dominican Republic).

I learned that the program had been a special undertaking for a limited time, and the lady I spoke with also advised me to allow the family, in consultation with the church partner staff, to decide what they most needed to do with a family gift.

Wise advice.

She added that the family might need a bed, for example, more than a goat. See how that was impressed on my mind, later:

I began sponsoring Uwizera in the spring of 2006. As her birthday would come around a couple of months later, I promptly arranged for a gift.

A few months later, I received her thank-you letter, which included this information:

“I thank you for the gift you sent me of 13,775 [Rwandan] francs. I gave a church offering of 1,375 francs. I used the remaining money to buy shoes for 300 francs, a bed for 8,000 francs. We used the rest [4,100 francs] to buy food.”

Did you get the part where she tithed on her birthday money?

I’m sure there are some Christians in our country who have always tithed on every money gift they received, but no one had ever suggested that I should. I didn’t know it was “titheable income”!

Uwizera taught me the meaning of being a “cheerful giver” and giving back to the Lord.

Other gifts to Uwizera have been used for clothes for her, for a school uniform, for a parcel of land — small, I think, that they use for a garden. They planted beans there last November.

They have also bought a goat, a hen (maybe two), and a rooster, all at various times. And she always tithes on the gifts.

I am focusing, here, on only two of my girls because I seldom receive any specific information about gifts from my other two. They usually say, “Thank you so much for your gifts.”

young girl holding gift itemsI have been able, one time each, to send gifts with friends for Tausi and Uwizera. I sent the gifts for Tausi a few years ago and received a letter and a photo in return.

In the photo, she was holding the gifts in front of her and had the shyest look on her face. She thanked me, adding, “I know you did this because you love my life.” Ah, good. She understood!

The gifts for Uwizera made their way last February. I had a lot to send, with some specialty gifts for sewing, so one zip-lock bag was carried by each of three gracious friends.

After listing most of the items and thanking me, she told me that her whole family (eight or nine strong) had been so thankful that they stopped what they had been doing to spend 30 minutes praying for us.

Have I ever been that grateful?

Compassion does not require that sponsors send money gifts to their children, and the amounts we are permitted to send for birthdays and Christmas are not large amounts. If you can afford to provide those gifts, you should do so a couple of months, or more, prior to the child’s birthday.

If you are able and want to send larger gifts at other times, Compassion allows family gifts of $25 to $300. The staff at the child development center will work with your child’s family and then buy the items the family needs.

Reading my girls’ thanks and knowing how they have used the money humbles me, every time. My little amounts ($25 for birthdays, $18 for Christmas) mean so much more to them than they do to me!

I hope I have made clear that:

  • yes, our sponsored children are grateful.
  • no, I would never know what they needed, ahead of time.
  • yes, our gifts make a difference.

Don’t wait, assuming your child will tell you what they need. Give out of your abundance, and wait to hear how God multiplies your loaves and fishes.

81 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Virginia March 5, 2023

    I had a grown sponsor child who was going to vocational school as a beautician. I would send her child gifts as well as her birthday gift. Each time, I would get a thank you letter with a photo of the items she bought. She always bought new tools and supplies to go with her new vocation.

    1. Nicole March 6, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing, Virginia. 😊💛 I love how she used each gift to equip herself even more! Thank you for pouring into her life.

  2. Angeli Stoehr February 23, 2019

    How do I know if my sponsored child received gifts that I sent in the mail? I see copies of the letters and scanned cards.
    I’ve sent stickers and coloring pagesID#- PH071100722
    Sponsor#- 08539122

    1. Sarah February 25, 2019

      Hello Angeli! I do see that you have sent items we are able to physically deliver to your child at least twice since choosing to sponsor him. Since these items do not need to be scanned to be translated, you will not see copies of them online. IT does take a few months for physically sent items to be delivered to the children, which means your child probably has not received these items quite yet. Thank you so much for blessing her with such sweet gifts! I am sure she will love them!

  3. debra johnson November 3, 2018

    I have sponsored a child for 4 years now, but I honestly believe I just recently received the FIRST piece of mail about a family gift. God put it on my heart this morning to use my free time to look up the difference between a family gift and a gift from the catalog. I am an educated person, I read everything, but somehow I missed this wonderful opportunity! I truly think you should be marketing this aspect more, especially after reading all of these posts. Clearly a small amount of money goes a long way and it will show the parents that we love them too. I cannot wait to hear how it will help them!

  4. JEssica December 28, 2017

    I am hesitant to give large gifts. I have in the past, but have not received any confirmation that the child received the extra money to go to any special needs or gifts. Is there any way to find out these things? Beyond having the child confirm it?

    1. Christina December 28, 2017

      Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for your generous heart and desire to bless your sweet child in such a tangible way! I’m so sorry for any confusion or concern regarding gifts to your child and receiving confirmations. I am happy to help you!

      I see that you have given many generous gifts to a handful of our funds, and these donations are truly a blessing! I see you have given to the Highly Vulnerable Children Fund, Income Generation Fund, Unsponsored Children Fund, and more! Please know that many children benefit from these funds, including your child indirectly, and you have definitely made a difference. The gifts provided through the Compassion Gift Catalog and other funds look first to provide for children and families with the greatest need. You are not able to specify that your sponsored child or their family receive a gift directly through these funds because often times the gifts that we feel would be helpful is not what these families need or would choose for themselves. If you would like to give a specific gift to your child only, then we would encourage you to write a letter asking what types of things would be beneficial to them. Once you have an idea of what they need, you may give a monetary gift to the child or family with instructions on what you would like it used for. Please know that the use of the gift is ultimately up to the family, so if they have an immediate need, they may use the gift to help meet that need.

      You have also given a Christmas gift to sweet Maria! When you give your child a Christmas gift, this option donates to the Christmas Gift Fund. All Christmas donations are combined and then divided evenly among every child in our program. With this fund, we purchase a meaningful gift specifically for each child and help purchase gifts for children who are not yet sponsored or whose sponsors are not able to give. We do this because we want every child to receive a gift and to be included in a special Christmas celebration at their church-based center. What matters the most is that Maria will know that the gift she receives is from you – making it even more special! Regrettably, you will not receive a picture for this specific type of gift only. We encourage children to thank their sponsor in their next letter, but they are not required to.

      You may also give directly to your child by choosing to give a Child Gift, Birthday Gift, or Family Gift, and I see that you have done this in the past and recently too! When Maria and her family receive these gifts, a Compassion staff member will assist them in purchasing a gift for your child :). For gifts of $20 or less, we encourage the child to thank their sponsor in their next scheduled letter, but they are not required to. For gifts of $21-$59, you can expect to receive a thank you from your child about six months after the gift is given, letting you know what was purchased. For gifts of $60 or more, you will receive a thank you letter and a photo of what was purchased. If you have not received your thank you letter within 6 months after you have given it, please do let know so we may help you!

      I see that you did give a $100 family gift to Maria in December of 2016. Since it has definitely been more than 6 months from when you gave this gift, and you have not received a thank you letter, we need to send an inquiry for you. Please rest assured that I have sent an inquiry to our field office in Mexico. Our wonderful field staff there will ensure Maria and her family are well, and they will ask her to write her thank you letter, along with collecting a picture. We will be in contact with you as soon as we receive a response within 6-8 weeks. Thank you so much for your understanding and patience!

      Since you just blessed Maria and her family with more gifts and your child gift and family gift was more than $60, you should expect to receive another thank you letter and picture by June of 2018 :).

      God bless you for your generosity and for being a blessing to children in poverty!

  5. Linda Pease November 6, 2017

    Why ask your child what they would like as a gift when you can’t send it and someone else picks out the gift which may be totally different from the gift they have on their list?

    1. Christina November 7, 2017

      Linda, thank you so much for your heart for this ministry and for the love you have for your three kiddos! I’m so sorry for any confusion or frustration with our letter and gift guidelines. We appreciate your desire to bless your children in a very tangible way. Regrettably, we are not able to send packages to your children. This is for a couple of reasons. Everything we send to our country offices is declared at a customs as a document. If custom officials find anything in a box of letters that isn’t a document, we are assessed a hefty fine and the box will be held for weeks, possibly months. Sadly, there is also a high incidence of theft when sending packages to the developing world, and shipping items overseas can be quite costly. Instead we encourage you to send a monetary gift. The child and family, with the assistance of church staff, will purchase what they need most. This also benefits the local economy of your sponsored child by supporting local businesses.

      There are other fun ways to bless your kiddos too! Along with a personal letter, you can send: stickers, bookmarks, musical greeting cards, and pop-up cards. These items will be physically delivered to your child. Please keep in mind that items sent without a personal letter will not be delivered to your sponsored child. You can also send: letters, photos, postcards, greeting cards, coloring pages and paper crafts. However, your child will not receive the original items. The items will be scanned and sent electronically. The total number of items (including stationery and the letter to your child) should not be more than six sheets, and each flat paper gift item should not be larger than 8.5” x 11”. You can send letters online through your My Account, or you can send letters and items physically with your sponsor number and child’s ID number written on them to Compassion’s address below:

      Attn Correspondence Dept
      Compassion International
      Colorado Springs, Colorado 80997-0004

      If you have any further questions about our letter writing guidelines, more information is available here. Thank you so much for blessing your sweet children with your love and support! Have a blessed day!

  6. Chak February 28, 2015

    Thanks Vicki! A great and encouraging sharing!

  7. Cathy July 8, 2013

    My husband and I usually send the maximum family gifts of $1000 to each of our sponsored children. It is amazing what that buys in some countries. In Bolivia, our sponsored child has sent us photos of huge bags of food (corn, rice, etc.), large jugs of cooking oil, a bed, dresser, TV, oven, clothing and more. The amount of food alone looked like it could feed their large family for months.

    In Ethiopia, we just received a letter from our sponsored child saying that with our gift, he was able to buy a cow and build a house! Build a house!! I was shocked when I read that, but so thrilled for him, that his family would have this new home to live in.

    Clearly, our family gifts are making a difference in their lives.

    1. Katie April 18, 2014


      That’s so generous of you! I hope that when I finish my PhD and get a job at a university I will be able to do a same.

      You are such a blessing 🙂

      1. Ralf Schroeder August 8, 2014

        Hi Cathy,
        Generosity is great! But helping in a wrong way can hurt. To pour out annually $1.000 on a poor family in countries like Ethiopia or Bolivia will not help, but most likely harm enormously. In Ethiopia a day laborer has to work several years (!) to earn this amount of money. In Bolivia it takes probably around 1 year. A regular gift like this would make your sponsored family the wealthiest people in their borough. This status (sudden and unearned) entails a number of bad implications, and it would cripple the family in many ways.

        I think there are a few important truths regarding poverty alleviation. My favorites: 1. Lack of money is not the root cause of poverty! 2. Not everything that feels good is actually good!

        Most people in poverty suffer from feelings of inferiority, worthlessness and hopelessness. Sustainable help has to address these evil feelings. Part of it is to empower people to earn sufficient things through their own labor, whenever possible. We should show them through our words (letter writing!) and actions that they are precious people with unique talents and abilities. The crucial task is to help them to recover their sense of dignity.

        Transferring excessive amounts of money doesn’t fit the bill, to say the least. Unfortunately poverty alleviation is much more challenging and time consuming. There are many good books on this subject. I can highly recommend Brian Fikkert, “When helping hurts”.

        This comment is kind of funny for me, because normally I feel urged to take a stand for generous giving. I have some sponsored children in South America, and they all get several hundred dollars each year. In my experience some people tend to rationalize their stinginess. They recommend only a small family gift ($100 max), once a year, always at a different date, in order to avoid dependency. Of course all general statements are not helpful at all. The purchasing power of a Dollar, Euro, etc. is very different in the Compassion countries, and it depends on the products you want to buy as well.


  8. jwjrenslow April 11, 2012

    I understand that most children in the program are in great need. I was a little surprised to have my sponsored child write to me telling me that he had a TV and all kinds of toys as well as played on the internet. I know that what I am doing it helpful to him in his life, but I’m not sure it is making the same impact as on someone who needs a bed and shoes. 🙁

    1. Vicki Small April 11, 2012

      jwjrenslow: I once received a letter thanking me for a family gift, and I was disappointed, too, to learn that she had bought a small TV, among other items. But her sense of values changed, as she got older. She received Jesus as her Savior, which also dramatically changed the tone and content of her letters. Her mom fought breast cancer for several years, and died about three years ago. So life has a way of de-trivializing even a child’s outlook.

      Your sponsored child may be benefitting in ways he doesn’t even realize or consider important enought to mention. For instance (and I’m purely giving an example), your sponsorship may make it possible for him to go to school, and that could be where he gets to play on the Internet (I hope they use good filters!!). Maybe, because of your sponsorship, his parents are able to buy his school uniform–required in many countries.

      As he grows older, he will realize what a gift God has given him in your sponsorship. Pray for him!

  9. Doug O. February 5, 2012

    Thank you Becky and Vicki, I would not have thought of that. I was considering a gift every month but now will rethink that. My son and daughter-in-law were foster parents here for 5 or 6 years and of course I had a lot of personal contact with those kids and the gratitude was instantly so this long distance helping and the delayed reaction is something I will need to get used to.

  10. Doug O. February 4, 2012

    Thanks for your post Vicki. I just began a sponsorship so I am new at it but already feel gratified. It is good to know that we can really help these needy children and their families. I sent my first letter and am anxiously awaitng my first letter from Nahid. I have some experience helping children here at home and know how much it is appreciated. Nahid has a sister that is not registered for sponsorship so I sent a family gift that will hopefully help with her care. I plan on sending regular family gifts in the future.

    1. Becky February 5, 2012

      Hi Doug! I am sure that your family gift will help her sister who isn’t registered along with their whole family. It is very thoughtful of you to send a family gift!

      I think this other blog post about gift giving might be useful to read. I understand the desire to send regular family gifts, but based upon what this other post recommends, if regular gifts are monthly gifts than that isn’t such a good idea as it creates dependency. However, if you mean regular as in an annual Christmas gift for the family or a family gift twice a year, then that is much less likely create huge expectations and dependency 🙂 If you have any specific sponsorship questions that other sponsors might be great at helping you navigate, then I recommend you join, which is a network connecting sponsors who are passionate about helping their children.

      1. Doug O. February 5, 2012

        Thank you Vicki and Becky, I wouldn’t have thought of that. I was considering a gift every month but now wil rethink that. My son and daughter-in-law were foster parents here at home for 5 or 6 years and I had a lot of contact with those kids. The gratitude was instantanious so this long distance help and the delay is something I will have to get used to.

    2. Vicki Small February 5, 2012

      Doug, thank you so much for sponsoring your child! I sure do understand that eager awaiting for the first letter from a child; so many factors determine how quickly–or how slowly–those first letters arrive, but consider the wait a lesson in delayed gratification. 🙂

      Please check Compassion’s website for guidelines on giving gifts. I believe the current maximum per year is $1,000, including family, birthday and other gifts, but I really could be wrong. You might also look at the guidelines for what we can send in letters or cards; but for regular letter-writing, the wonderful new tools on the website are best–and quickest.

      One word of caution about sending regular money gifts: Compassion is not about creating dependency, as in giving a man a fish, but about guiding, discipling, teaching the children so that they learn to fish. A friend of mine learned that she had created a dependency in a child’s family when she sent a letter without a gift; the parents decided they weren’t getting enough from the program and pulled their child out.

      But I understand and appreciate your desire to help lift this child and her family out of dire poverty. Your prayers, letters, occasional gifts, and much encouragement will mean so much. God bless you, Nahid, and your relationship as it grows!

  11. Chris A. January 19, 2012

    Gifts is misspelled in this page’s description meta tag. It looks especially bad when the description shows up on Facebook and Google+ links.

    1. Jacquie Parella January 19, 2012

      Thanks for catching that Chris and for letting me know!

  12. Nancy Lundblade September 7, 2011

    We sponsor six Compassion kids in three different areas, India, Indonesia, and Africa. We are always stunned when we get back a thank you letter for an extra gift because we are so spoiled here in America. Our kids have purchased rice, oil, beds, goats, cows, roofing materials and school clothes with the money we sent. They are better stewards of God’s resources than most of us here. They inspire me!

  13. Kim Johnson September 6, 2011

    I just began my first sponsorship through Compassion, a little boy in Uganda. And I just gave his family a gift of $25 in addition to my monthly promise. I am encouraged to know that someone from Compassion sits down with the family and decides what is most needed/wanted when using my additional $25. And all of this money goes towards the family.

    1. Anh December 5, 2011

      Hello Kim,
      I too sponsored two children from Uganda; a boy and a girl. I received letters from the boy, thanks for the gifl, but i never received any from the girl exceipt the first letter thanks for sponsored her. This is from March of this year, i begin to wonder if she is still come to the center, or she is for real. I sponsored total five children; i received a lots of letters from my others children, also their up date pictures.
      Anh from Florida

      1. Vicki Small December 6, 2011

        Hello, Anh,

        Have you called the Call Center and asked them to send a “field note,” inquiring as to the girl’s status and the lack of correspondence from her? If you have not, please do it tomorrow. Call 800-336-7676. You have a right to know, and Compassion needs to be alerted about this situation, so you can find out. They will get the answers you need. Just be patient a bit longer, after you have talked to them; sometimes it can take several weeks for them to get an answer back from the field. So much depends on the distance between the country office and the project the child is in.

        Bless you for sponsoring your five children! You are making a big difference in their lives!

        1. Anh December 7, 2011

          Hello Vicki,
          Thank you for answer my pray. I have been very worried about my girl; i will call Commpassion and let them know about this. God bless you.
          Anh from Florda

  14. kim Leaird August 20, 2011

    I agree with all of the above comments. I sponsor 4 children and always get wonderful tthank-you notes anytime I send a gift . I also get letters almost weekly from one child or another. They use the money to buy necessities for themselves and their families. My kids have bought clothes for themselves, familly members, goats, chicken, etc. I can’t ever recall any of them using the money for a non-essential item . Never has one said a word about any type of game or toy. Your gifts really go to helping kids who live in extreme poverty. For the cost of going out to dinner ( to a cheap restaurant) you can change a child’s life and hopefully in the process point them AND their family members to Christ. As Jesus said we must take care of both the physical needs as well as the spiritual. If you are feeding and caring for a family I think they will likely be more receptive to the Gospel. Thus through simple gifts you could be changing a person’s eternity. Many parents will listen to the Gospel if they have the basic necessities.

  15. James Fix July 30, 2011

    Thank you for the wonderful post! I love reading thank you letters from my sponsored children. The beds, chickens, school supplies, etc remind me how much we really help our kids. Today I received a letter from my most recent sponsored child, his father passed away on Easter while they were at a church function. Jeremia is only 7 and it broke my heart. I immediately prayed for his father, his family, and for him. I then sent them a family gift that is the equivalent of 6 months wages in Indonesia in his village. I know that God has blessed me to be able to help this boy and his family. The money as stated in many of the posts on this blog, is way more needed by this family than my family wasting it on pizza and Wal-Mart! God Bless!

  16. pat oconnor July 12, 2011

    I have 2 boys one in India and Ecuador. I am lucky enough that thye both send pictures of the gifts they get. I do feel that the boy from Ecuador does appear to be either ‘shy’ or upset with his mother for buying clothes and household items.

    The boy from India used a gift for a bike to his father could travel further for work. The most unique to me would be a caldron.
    Love to give them money when I can…the pictures they send show me the needs they have far OUTWEIGH anything I could buy at Wal-mart for myself.

  17. Michelle June 18, 2011

    Vicki, I am glad your comment came through in my email today…. It has been awhile since I’ve been on this blog post! I’ve sent lots of gifts since my original post above …….. and now have more children too!

    Back when I posted above I did not know what my little girl bought with the family gift. Here are some of the things she got: two chairs, a mattress, lots of clothes and shoes, a table full of food, and a big shiny pot to cook in. Oh! And she got her first DOLL ever!!!! ( I was thrilled that she got something “fun”)

    Over the years I have sent much smaller amounts, but my kids have still managed to buy lots of items for itty bitty amounts of US currency!!! Lots of clothing and shoes, backpacks, a goat, school fees, fabric to make clothing, and food.

    The big family gift I mentioned in 2009 was acknowledged with a long, heartfelt letter of thanks from my child…….. AND a letter from her Grandmother who couldn’t believe how generous a stranger was to her family! (I was new to sponsoring my little girl…. we are no longer “strangers!”) I also got 8 or 9 incredible photos of what was purchased and showing members of my little girls’ family and her home. (shown in my gallery on Our Compassion)

    Since then, I’ve gotten a few photos of what was purchased with the money I’ve sent. But it is ALWAYS a joy to read what was bought and hear the gratefulness and love from my kids……. A little of our money goes a long way…….. 🙂

    1. Vicki Small June 18, 2011

      Love this! Thanks, Michelle!

  18. Vicki Small June 16, 2011

    The occasional comment on this post still comes to me in an e-mail. Tonight, reading Lynn’s comment, I clicked on the link to the post, itself, unsure, even, if it was “my” post! (Excuses abound: age, recent surgery, narcotics for pain…)

    Anyway, I re-read my own post, and then I re-read every comment. My eyes have filled with tears, again, as I’ve read others’ experiences with giving and thank -you letters, and as I’ve read how some are now inspired to give gifts to their sponsored children.

    I’m also prodded anew to think about gifts for our sponsored kids. Even as our business has dwindled severely, in the past 3-1/2 years, we have somehow added a bunch more kids. I kept asking myself, “With all that we have, how can we not afford to do this?!” But I have not kept up with gifts, other than birthday and Christmas. Now that need has been re-awakened for me, and I will try to get back to doing that, even tho’ the gifts will be smaller than before.

    Bless you all, as you have blessed me!

  19. Lynn June 16, 2011

    As a special way to celebrate our grandchildren’s birthdays, we send a family gift to our sponsored child’s family on each of my grandchildren’s birthdays.

  20. Beth November 2, 2010

    Thank you for writing this beautiful message. I just signed up to sponsor two children- a boy in Tanzania and a girl in Ghana. I am inspired even more now to give gifts in Jesus’ name. 🙂

  21. Bob-Cora October 22, 2010

    We sent a Christmas Gift–I think we will give each other mosquito bed nets for Children in Africa for Christmas.

  22. Vicki Small August 6, 2010

    Indeed, He is, Desiree, and this is all great news!

  23. Desiree McKee August 6, 2010

    Vicki, my aunt and uncle are very wealthy and they recently took an enormous leap of faith to sponsor 3 female LDP students from India, Nicaragua, and Peru. God opened their hearts so they could share their many material blessings with thers. My mom and I also recently prayed and she is deciding to sponsor a male LDP student from Rwanda with her co-workers (she works as an advertising executive). God is soooo great!

  24. Vicki Small July 4, 2010

    Desiree, I am so humbled by the sacrifices you are making in order to sponsor your several children! One day you will finish your formal education, find a job and (we hope!) have more funds. At that time, you can determine whether you can afford to send gifts. They’re not required; thank you so much for sponsoring your “precious angels”!

  25. Desiree McKee July 4, 2010

    As a college student who also sponsors 3 kids, as well as 4 more with my mother, I often cannot afford to send family gifts. However, God provided me a way to do this when I recieved a raise at my job (I work as a sales associate) and I was able to send $25.00 family gifts to my 3 children. I also watched the Catalyst 2009 Conference Youtube video with Michelle Tolentino explaining how she cut her meal plan to sponsor 2 children. I am at college on a scholarship myself, and I also cut my meal plan and part of my dorm funds so I could continue to sponsor my 3 precious angels. 🙂

  26. Linda June 11, 2010

    What a beautifully written blog! (I absolutely LOVED that she tithed – exactly! – on her gift money! How sweet, and how humbling…)

    When I sponsored my first child through Compassion, in my enthusiasm I IMMEDIATELY send a family gift of $100! Not long ago I received a letter which read in part: “Thank you for sending me the gift, with which I bought two goats and all the rest helped mother who was sick and admitted in hospital.”

    No, sweetie, don’t thank me… Thank the LORD, who compelled me to give long before any of us knew what your needs would be!

  27. Andrea May 15, 2010

    I started sponsoring Samiratou in Burkina Faso late last November. She is my first sponsor child but I was familiar with Compassion since my Mom has 3 sponsor children and has been sponsoring through Compassion for 7 years.

    Samiratou’s birthday had already passed (September) but I knew that Compassion counts gifts on a calendar year so as soon as my account came up online I sent off a birthday gift with the specified instruction that it was for her 2009 birthday even though it had already passed. I got a letter in which she thanks me 4 separate times and includes that her twin sisters thank me also. They bought a bag of corn, nearly as large as she is, although I couldn’t tell if it was for eating or planting. Someone is still helping her write but her excitement comes through so clearly. I may end up posting the whole thing on it was very touching and it came after I had a day at work that really frustrated and depressed me. In the space of 5 minutes I went from moping to giddy. We truly are blessed ourselves by giving to our Compassion kids.

  28. Linda January 15, 2010

    I sponsor three children and recently Anildson in Brazil graduated from the program. I long to know what is going on in his life now, but as I told him in my last letter, we will meet one day in heaven. My kids have always sent me lists and sometimes pictures of the items purchased with my money. When I first sponsored Anildson and he was six, he wrote that he purchased tennis shoes with his money, something he had wanted “all of his life.” I laughed and cried at the same time. I am amazed and humbled by all the families can purchase with the family gifts I have sent, mattresses, chickens, goats, food, clothes, etc. Praise God!

  29. Magenta1954 December 9, 2009

    Thank you for that narrative. I recently became a sponsor with Compassion, and thank God everyday for impessing upon my heart to choose a child named Benjamin. Thank you again, your narrative has inspired me.


  30. Dana Young November 15, 2009

    I plan on sending my first family gift this year. According to the project information, March is the most difficult time of year for the people in Colombia. This is the time of year when food is the most scarce. So, I was planning on sending my family gift in January so that it should get to my girl’s family in March. I sent Michell a birthday gift in July. I haven’t heard yet what she got herself. I hope to hear soon! Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories.

  31. Christine November 13, 2009

    This article makes me tear up as I have had similar experiences with my child. She and her family are always so thankful for the gift that I give them and they always send their thanks. Now if I could only get my own children to be as thankful! 🙂

  32. Kathryn November 5, 2009

    Dear fellow parents,

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    I have been sponsoring Gidion in Tanzania for about 8 years now and have been truly blessed by our relationship. He is such a wonderful and sweet boy.

    Yesterday, after praying with my husband I took a “leap of faith” and registered to visit Gidion next May. The reason behind the “leap” is that my husband was recently laid-off, however, we know that the Lord will provide! I am so excited, and I pray every night for my email from Compassion telling me that I am “officially” accepted to go.

    Please pray for us.

  33. Crystal Kramer October 27, 2009

    Thanks so much everyone for the insight into family gifts. I thought the child would let me know of any family needs, but it’s obvious to me now that God has used this post to show me what I need to do. Thanks…

    Has anyone been to Tanzania on a mission trip before? I’m planning on going next May if I can financially work it out. Any information on costs, itenerary, etc would be greatly appreciated. God Bless!

  34. Stephanie Green October 24, 2009

    I’m sending family gifts this week. My three young children and I rolled coins to generate family gifts for all 6 of our Compassion kids. I am hoping we’ll learn how the gifts were used so my own kids can see how our pocket change can have a big impact on our family in Africa. I hope to hear about how they were used before I go meet some of my children in Tanzania next summer.

    Thanks to all who wrote of their experiences!

  35. Vicki Small October 10, 2009

    Ray – Yes, sponsoring these children provides many opportunities to accept delayed gratification! But it’s so worth the wait, as we build those relationships with the kids. Bless you!

    Shannon – thanks so much for sponsoring Hamini! So many blessings are in store for you, as well as for him!

  36. Ray October 9, 2009

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the comments and stories in this blog. It encourages me to be patient and pray for my child I sponsor, as I wait to recieve her first letter back, and to hear what she’s used my gift money for. In these days of fast email, it’s frustrating at times to wait, wait, wait, but in the end God is teaching me patience. Thank you all for sharing your stories!

  37. shannon October 5, 2009

    just last night i sat at my computer and went through the photos of children needing sponsers. I finally settled on a 13 year old boy named Hamini. Im new to this but this blog has helped alot. I now realize it might take months to hear from him and how much a family gift will mean. I also now know it will take months to get the family gift. what you guys have been doing is amazing. Thanks for the blogs the stories they tell show the difference GOD is making in their lives and yours.

  38. Vicki Small October 5, 2009

    Sandy, I cried, too, reading your note about what your gift means to Arup and his family! Our God is so good!

    Btw, another letter came from Uwizera, while I was at the Advocates Conference: “Beloved parents…I thank you very much for the gifts you sent to me worth 14,138 [RW] francs. I gave tithe worth 1413 frn, I bought four hens, I am always praying for you to be blessed. I conclude by wishing you peace and may God bless you. Thank you!”

    I’m losing count, but I think that makes six hens, now, bought with our gifts.

  39. JD in Canada October 4, 2009

    The weeping started as I read the original post, and continued as I read the responses from all the wonderful, compassionate sponsors gathered here.

    I have sent a family gift as well, and I have been working towards sending another. This thread has brought it to the top of my priority list. Thank you for the intense reminder.

  40. Sara Benson October 2, 2009

    Ken, even if you don’t have enough money to send to all of your kids, maybe you could send it to them one at a time.
    I have been giving a family gift every few months when I can scrape together $50 or so.

  41. Sandy October 2, 2009

    Here’s my story about a family gift:

    On May 25, the SW region of Bangladesh was all but destroyed by Cyclone Ayla. Hundreds of deaths occurred and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Even after the storm dissipated the land remained ( and still remains to this day) submerged in contaminated floodwater, safe drinking water was scarce and water-borne illnesses widespread. With scant coverage of this disaster in the media, I would probably never have known of this event, if it hadn’t been for CI’s coverage of the situation and their response found on’s Crisis Update link.

    My 6-year-old Arup’s was (and still is) in the midst of the devastation. I immediately began fervent prayers for him, his family and others affected. And I sent a family gift…

    My family is not wealthy by Western standards, but compared to Arup’s Bangladeshi family we certainly are. With that in mind, I sent the maximum family gift of $300.00, knowing that his need was far greater than ours. And I continued to write my monthly letters to him…

    I told Arup that I was praying for him and his family. I told him that he could rely on God for strength and I quoted scripture passages of encouragement to him. I told him that God was sending a monetary gift to him through me, and that I hoped would satisfy their greatest needs. With each letter, I included the usual…a sticker strip, coloring pages, even a bilingual English/Bengali book I found on the Internet. And I waited…

    No news from CI meant that Arup was okay. But how was he exactly? Then it arrived…a letter from Arup, himself. I was written before the gift money, but he was indeed alive! Praise God!

    Arup writes, “…The matter of sorrow is that a storm called Ayla drowned all the land and washed away my house. All the crops have gone with it. We are now living in the cyclone center.” And as always he writes, “I pray for YOU!” What a sweet boy!

    Then yesterday, the thank-you letter arrived. “…still the village is submerged underwater,” Arup reports. He thanks me repeatedly for the gift money and reports that “we have bought brick, sand, cement and pay wages to the labors to build our house.” And later in the letter Arup add, “I liked the Bible verses that you mentioned and I memorize them.”

    I cried like a baby to hear all this. A $300 gift could take a family out of a shelter in Bangladesh and restore them into a house of their own. How humbling is that?!

    And a little boy memorizing scripture suggested to him by a woman thousands of miles away. I cried even more! God has blessed me beyond words!

    I’ve always sent birthday and Christmas gifts, but now I will add family gifts, too. Even if a need as great as Arup’s isn’t present in the lives of my other three sponsored children, the reality is that they are still in poverty. Whether they use it for daily necessities or invest it in an income-generating purchase, I know they need the money more that I do.

  42. Ken M. October 2, 2009

    I wish I had enough money to give family gifts to all 5 of my children. Maybe one day.

  43. Ken M. October 2, 2009

    I received detailed lists of things bought with birthday and Christmas gift money from 2 of my children. My seven year old child wrote the list himself and the correspondence monitor wrote for my nine year old child. My 6 year old and 8 year old children will just thank me for the gifts without going into details.
    I wasn’t expecting a detailed list however it was nice to know what my children bought. I was surprised to find out what $25 and $18 could buy.

  44. crystlgib October 1, 2009

    I send a small birthday gift and also a family gift. I can say I am always happily surprised how the family uses my gift. These gifts have helped my families buy food, suits so fathers can look for work, bicycles, sewing machines, beds, doors and windows (to keep out thieves), and even land (which I didn’t think Compassion did, but am extremely pleased about.) I have no doubt the gifts are greatly appreciated and a tangible reminder to my families they are dearly loved. I strongly encourage my fellow sponsors to give gifts as best they are able. I believe nothing could go further in helping build faith, about God’s love and provisions, in a child than a letter and gift from their sponsors.

  45. Michelle October 1, 2009

    Becky… I had to laugh when I read that the little boy just wrote down what he got instead of what the entire family got! I can see my own son doing that…. :o)

    Vicki, I’m glad you wrote your post! I had already sent the gifts, but I always love reading what families from different areas of the world choose to buy. I hope more people send gifts too, as I can only imagine the glee on all those little faces!!!

  46. Becky September 30, 2009

    Michelle, if for some reason you do not get a full accounting of how the gift was spent, you can call Compassion and they will send a request to the project. My sponsored child told me that with a family gift (he listed the Brazilian monetary amount) he got bathing towels and several specific clothing articles. As the cost of those items was vastly less than my gift (gift was $100-200 range) and I knew Compassion wouldn’t have spent a family gift just on a child, I asked Compassion to look into it. The sponsor relations representative (person at 800#)said my child probably chose to simply tell me what he got rather than his whole family in the letter. I can understand children are like that and his family did buy over a dozen different things with the gift, which is alot for a kid to write. I did get a full accounting within a month of my request, which I thought was quite fast for having to contact the project and get a response.

  47. Vicki Small September 30, 2009

    I tho’t I’d be really smart and use Google’s Language Tools to translate. One problem: the word paldemeria just keeps coming out exactly the same. My mediocre Spanish/English dictionary does not include the word.

    By the way, I said this in the comments on FB, but for those who might not have seen it: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading other people’s experiences with giving gifts to their children! I’m so glad the post was so well received; it obviously touched a chord, and I hope it encouraged those who had been holding off on giving gifts to go ahead, as they are able. The blessings go in every direction!

  48. Sara Benson September 30, 2009

    Thanks! I asked a friend from Chile and she was not sure.

  49. Julie September 30, 2009

    Sara, I asked my coworker, who is from Puerto Rico, she says she thinks your child is saying they bought pants, two T-shirts, and underwear.

  50. Amy September 29, 2009

    Sara – I think they are talking about trousers and jeans.

  51. Sara Benson September 29, 2009

    One letter that I received thanking me for my gift was in Spanish and somehow had slipped through without a translation. I was able to read most of it, but the second two things my child bought were new words for me. Is anyone able to translate this for me?

    Me compraron un pantalon -2- paldemeria, un pantaloncillo.

  52. Irish Gifts September 29, 2009

    You have pointed out the right topic.

    Thanks for the information


  53. Sara Benson September 29, 2009

    Michelle, most of the time you will get a detailed list of how your child used the money. I have gotten a few “thank you for the gift” but for the most part the kids will list the items and sometimes the prices too.

  54. geri September 29, 2009

    I gave family gifts to 4 of my children earlier this year. Two of my children repaired damage to their homes – a new roof, new floor and one of them also got clothes and food. Another child bought food, shoes and clothes for the whole family. I gave $200 to my longest sponsored child and with it they bought materials to build a house! The money I sent them was a tax refund that I know we could have wasted easily on things we didn’t need but instead my children repaired homes, got food and clothes and even a new house. Along with my sponsorship fees, it is some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Geri

  55. Michelle September 28, 2009

    Amy…. We gave my son a carrom board for Christmas two years ago after he learned to play with neighborhood friends that are from India. It is really FUN to play… and Praveen chose well as he can play with family and friends! :o)

    I sent my first gift money in May (other than the Christmas funds) and I can’t wait to hear what Ludis bought with it. Her birthday is in early December, so she’ll be getting something then too….

    I have to admit that I’m a bit confused, as I thought I had read on this site that everyone at least gets an account of what the gift money was spent on…. even if they don’t get a photo? But now I’m reading that some just get a “thank you” and no mention of what was bought…. I sure hope I find out what Ludis bought….

  56. Amy September 28, 2009

    Thanks for this post – I find also that the thank you notes are sometimes educational. Praveen wrote us last time that he bought a carrom board with his gift money – we had to look it up!

  57. Arlonne Monroe September 28, 2009

    Vicki, thanks for doing this important topic. I just wanted to mention that my kids are in Honduras, and I just a week ago got the Thank You from a family gift I sent to one of them Feb. 2! Kiara was so grateful, and listed everything they bought with it…including beans and rice…she mentioned how much they needed it. I sent the family gift for them because the Lord prompted me to do it…I felt that there was an important reason I needed to send it, and come to find out they needed food most of all… yes they are indeed important!

  58. Sara Benson September 28, 2009

    Shannon, it is great that you get photos from Josephine! From all of my kids only one has sent me that kind of photo.

  59. Juli Jarvis September 28, 2009

    Excellent post! Thanks for sharing these details!

  60. Shannon K September 28, 2009

    How wonderful that Uwizera had the initiative and willingness to tithe on her birthday money! I’ve always received a thorough accounting of how money I’ve sent Josephine (in Uganda) has been spent — and most of the pictures I get are of her wearing/holding her gifts. She’s young enough that so far her teachers have been the ones to write the accounting, but I hope this is something she continues once she starts to write herself!

    On the subject of not knowing what they need ahead of time…the first thank-you letter I received from Josephine listed the items she’d spent her money (~$20) on: a dress, a pair of shoes, a hen, 1 kg meat, and…get this…shaving her hair! That gave me a chuckle. I mean, I’m glad she got it shaved if it needed to be done, but I’d *never* have guessed she’d use the money for that!

  61. Sara Benson September 28, 2009

    I too have noticed how some of my kids say “thank you for the gift,” and others list in great detail what they bought. Once I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya and I dropped off gifts for the sponsored girls of my grandma and sister (I didn‘t get to meet the kids -long story). Later on my Grandma got a really nice thank you letter with two pictures. My sister only got a letter saying the classic “thank you for the gift.”

  62. Sara Benson September 28, 2009

    Thank you for your post! I once sent a family gift of $60 to my little girl in Indonesia. I got a thank you note back not only from her, but one from her parents as well. They said that they had been 3 months behind on their electricity bill and had no way of paying it. They had been praying that God would provide, and He did!! The money was enough to pay the bill and also to buy clothing for my little girl.

  63. Mike Stephens September 28, 2009

    excellent point Vicki!

  64. Cheryl J September 28, 2009

    Thanks for this post. It is one of my favorite things to do – send additional gifts to my kids. After the first gift I sent Collins in Kenya, he wrote back and said, “Thank you for the gift you sent. I never had a mattress or a blanket before and our roof leaked when it rained.” Wow! I think/am sure that I am more blessed in the giving than they are in the receiving.

  65. Judith Tremblay September 28, 2009

    Thanks so much for letting us know how much the gifts are appreciated — even if we are only told in general terms “thanks for the gift” in a letter.

    I’ve only been sponsoring Gabriel in Indonesia for about a year–still developing a relationship with him. His birthday is in March, so I sent a birthday gift well ahead of time–there was actually a prompt on my online account sometime in October, and I sent it soon after I saw that. And shortly after his birthday I sent a family gift. I think the last letter I received from him was dated in late April, so he probably had gotten the birthday gift, but maybe not the family gift. But, since I’ve gotten the standard 3-4 letters a year from him, and his dad has been doing the writing, maybe they had other things to tell me than about the birthday gift. 🙂 I’d love to know that the money actually got there, even if I never know how it was spent –although that would be nice, too! 😀

  66. Amy Wallace September 28, 2009

    I sent family gifts to all of my children earlier this year, and I’m starting to get their thank you notes now. My boy in India bought a bike, so now he doesn’t have to walk 2.5 km to school. Something that would seem so small to children here means the world to our sponsored kids.

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