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FAQ: Writing to your sponsored child



  • August 09, 2020
Kelsey Campbell
Kelsey Campbell

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During this year of challenges, returning to the “good old days” of letter-writing and sending care packages has never been such a comfort. And receiving a letter or small gift from you could be just the thing your sponsored child needs to brighten his or her day.

Although all our sponsorship programs temporarily suspended mail delivery for a while to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many programs have now decided it’s safe to start delivering letters again. That means it’s the perfect time to sit down and write a special note to your sponsored child!

But maybe you’re a little rusty or have never written to your sponsored child before and are curious how it works. If so, we’ve compiled a list of some of our most frequently asked questions below to help you get started.

And if you don’t see the answer to your specific question in the FAQs below, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!

How do I make sure my letter gets to my sponsored child?

The best way to ensure your letter gets to your child as quickly as possible is to include his or her name and ID number on each piece of your mailing. Start by writing this information at the top of your letter. Then when you’re done, address your envelope like this:

[Sponsored Child’s name and ID #]
c/o World Help Child Sponsorship Program
P.O. Box 501
Forest, VA 24551

As an extra precaution, you can add your donor account number along with your return address on the outside of the envelope. Then, drop it in the mail.

No need to add any special postage or anything. We’ll take care of forwarding it to your child’s country and specific program.

What if my sponsored child is too young to write to me?

Maybe your sponsored child is only 3 or 4 years old and still in preschool. He or she probably isn’t ready to write long letters yet, especially in English. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write to your sponsored child. Your child will respond in whatever way they can, either by drawing pictures or telling a teacher what they want to say.

What should I write about?

Your sponsored child wants to hear about you and your life. Talk about your family, your pets, your favorite hobbies or favorite foods … anything that will help your child feel like he or she knows you better. If you don’t know where to start, our blog often features prompts for writing letters.

To protect you and your sponsored child, there are also a few things you should avoid including in your letter such as your personal contact information or anything that may be deemed inappropriate. Be careful not to elaborate on material possessions like the size of your house, suggest your sponsored child visit you, ask what kind of gifts he or she would like to receive, or anything else that may set unrealistic expectations that could later cause major disappointment. Also keep in mind that any American slang or clichés you use will likely not translate in your child’s language or culture.

How often will my child write me back?

Keep in mind that it takes much longer for your sponsored child to write back to you than it would for a friend who lives in your state to write back. That’s because it typically takes 8-12 weeks for your letter to reach your sponsored child. It must first reach our office, be processed, go through customs as it is sent overseas, and be translated by sponsorship staff before reaching its final destination.

We highly encourage children to respond to their sponsors as soon as possible after receiving a letter, but we do not require them to write. Many choose to send a letter or two a year while some write more often, depending on how comfortable they feel with writing. Of course, it takes another 8-12 weeks for their letter to reach you.

Even if your sponsored child isn’t an avid writer, you can expect at least one letter toward the end of the year along with your annual update and a new photo of your sponsored child.

Why do my child’s letters seem impersonal or generic?

Your sponsored child adores the letters he or she receives from you. But not all children are able to express themselves well to someone they’ve never met or answer the questions their sponsors have asked them in previous letters. Also, sometimes the letters are written in a classroom environment as an English exercise, so they may have been given a fill-in-the-blank template to use for their writing. No matter what, though, your sponsored child treasures everything you send. Many kids even save the letters from their sponsors in a special place for years to come!

I haven’t heard from my child in a while. Are they OK?

During the coronavirus pandemic, our sponsorship programs stopped all mail delivery for several months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While many programs have now resumed mail delivery, it is still delayed in most places because of the pandemic. It may take several weeks or months longer than normal to hear back from your sponsored child. As mentioned earlier, however, you can still expect your annual update from your child toward the end of the year.

If it has been longer than a year since you have received an update or letter from your sponsored child, you can contact us, and we will look into what is causing the delay.

Can I send small gifts along with my letter? 

You can send your child letters and a small package once a month. The package can be no larger than a flat 6×9 inch envelope so some ideal gifts to mail include flat, paper items such as postcards, greeting cards, stickers, bookmarks, pages from a coloring book, and photos. We ask that you don’t send cash in the mail. Instead, you can give an extra financial gift at special times of the year like birthdays, Christmas, and back-to-school time. These gifts will ensure that your child and the other kids in his or her program can celebrate with a memorable gift or party.

Social distancing means that your sponsored child may feel less connected to people these days. He or she may not see their friends as often and may feel lonely. So this is the perfect time to reconnect with your sponsored child! Plus, schools will begin to reopen, and your sponsored child may feel uneasy about the transition. You can offer the words of encouragement he or she is longing to hear. 

Don’t wait — write your letter and drop it in the mail today. Or send your letter online by clicking the button below.

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