My sweet Jose from Bolivia holding an online letter from me.
You’ve searched your heart, made your decision, chosen a child, and now you are a sponsor.
But what happens next?
Often you will find that you are filled with enthusiasm for this new experience and a strong desire to begin a relationship with your child. However, that first letter from your child can take anywhere from one to several months to arrive in your mailbox.
While waiting for that letter, it seems your first lesson as a sponsor is patience. But there are lots of things you can do in the meantime.
After sponsoring my first child, I created an online account at http://www.compassion.com. You can do this by using your e-mail address or your sponsor ID number if you know it. Sometimes it can take a few days for your information to be entered into the system for the first time, allowing you to create your account.
Once you have your account, your child’s photo and information will be posted there. This means you can begin writing online letters to your child. When using the online letter-writing tool, you get to choose a template from many different themes, write a letter and include up to three digital photos of your own.
When you click the send button, your letter goes to Compassion’s headquarters in Colorado. There it will be printed onto quality paper and sent to your child’s country office, where it will be translated and delivered to your child.
After sending an online letter, the next thing I always do is to send an e-mail to Compassion requesting a digital copy of my child’s photo. Children’s photos are updated every 18-24 months, and Compassion keeps the current photo and one previous photo on file. You can ask for both!
This is fun because it allows you to see how your child has grown over the past two years, and having a digital copy gives you the ability to make hard copies of the photo. I always make a few copies of the child’s photos and mail the copies to the child. Families enjoy having photos of their children!
Another fun thing to do with the digital photos is to upload them to a free photo-editing web site. There are many to choose from online. Here you can add fun borders, images and text to your child’s photo, save the new photo to your computer and make a copy to send to your child.
While you’re making all these copies of photos, be sure to copy some of your own photos as well to mail to your child. Children love to get a peek into your life. They want to see you and your family, friends and pets.
In addition to photos, you can also send things like stickers, coloring pages and bookmarks to your child. Check Compassion’s web site for a full list of items to send and size requirements. Children love to receive these things on letter day.
You’ll want to label anything you send to your child. I print out the following information onto address labels so it’s easy to label anything I send: child’s name, child’s ID number, sponsor’s name and sponsor’s ID number. I keep a sheet of these labels for each child I sponsor in a folder so they are handy when I need them.
Remember, you can begin sending letters, either online or handwritten, you your child right away, and your letters mean a lot to your child.
Soon after I opened my account on Compassion’s web site, I stumbled across another web site that has proven invaluable. It’s called Our Compassion, http://www.ourcompassion.org, and it’s a community of involved sponsors who have a wealth of information and stories to share. I recommend spending some time on there learning about sponsorship.
Finally, there are two more web sites to fill your time learning about sponsorship, sponsored children and your child’s country. One is the Compassion blog (www.blog.comopassion.com), where stories are posted almost daily covering many Compassion topics. The other is the Compassion bloggers page (www.compassionbloggers.com). Here you can read many blog posts from past blogger trips. These stories are always touching, personal and well-written and provide a unique look into the lives of the children, families and communities where Compassion works.
These things just might keep you busy until you receive that much-anticipated first letter.