During my trip to Guatemala, I had the privilege of sorting sponsor gifts and letters before we gave them to the children at Casita Adonai. I saw many different ideas and creative ways to show interest and love for a sponsor child. Many times Lisa would hear me say, "Oh! What a great idea!" or "Man! I wish I had thought to include that!"
As a sponsor, one of our goals as a family is to connect with our sponsor child in tangible ways. One of those ways is writing letters whenever possible. Another way is to send gift bags each time a team
heads to Guatemala. We are so blessed to work with Caroline's Promise that affords many opportunities throughout the year to send both letters and gifts. But sometimes it would be nice to know what to get our sponsor child, or what questions would be good to ask, and what information is worth sharing....wouldn't it be great if there was a list somewhere to help with that? Well, here's your list.
For all kids:
Bandaids (age/gender appropriate are so fun!)
Tooth paste/brush (Doing this every time or sending more than one, allows other family members to have good oral hygiene too!)
Pajamas (if you're not sure of their size, a bigger size is better so they can grow into it. Also, Guatemalan kids tend be shorter than American kids, so keep that in mind if shopping for pants.)
Pencil sharpeners (for those age appropriate)
Scissors (age appropriate)
Small candy or gum
Pictures of you!
earrings (In Guatemalan culture, it is a sign of the parents' love to pierce their daughter's ears at birth, so you can be sure that your sponsor girl has pierced ears.)
Small bottle of nail polish or nail stickers
Emery boards (age appropriate)
Don't worry if you send a character-themed gift. (Mickey Mouse, GI Joe, Hello Kitty, etc.) Just because your sponsor child is in Guatemala, doesn't mean they are not very familiar with current trends and popular motifs. (For example, one Casita student's favorite person is Michael Jackson; another student recognized the My Little Pony game on my tablet while I was there!) Remember that the purpose in sending gifts is to supply need and show your care for your sponsor child. We do not want to have our gifts become a point of jealousy or for possible theft, so please be mindful when making your purchases to limit to those things of moderate value.
When writing letters to your sponsor child, ask questions about them! How many people are in their family, what their favorite food/color/sport/music/activity/book/dream is, are great questions that allow your sponsor child ideas to write back to you. When writing about yourself and your family, do share about normal activities, such as school, sports, going to church, how you celebrate holidays, what you like to do for fun. Sharing what the weather is like in your area is great for your sponsor child to see how different the weather is in different parts of the world. Above all, encourage, encourage, ENCOURAGE your sponsor child! Share words of hope and blessing on them; tell them you pray for them and believe in them. Having witnessed the response of sponsor kids when they receive their gift or letter, I know what you say matters to them; how you show your care impacts them greatly.
Lastly, even if you don't have a sponsor child, you can still send gift bags! You could pack a generic gift bag, or specify if you want to send a bag for a girl or boy; or you could send a bag for teachers of the school at Castia. Leftover school supplies, craft supplies and paper are always appreciated! One family even sent a jumbo-size bag of Dum-Dum lollipops that were distributed to the students.
Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it gives you a starting place for the next time you are filling a gift bag or writing a letter to your sponsor child. In the end, it's not what you sent, but that you sent something. Receiving a note or gift bag from their sponsor means so much to the kids at Casita, not because of what was in it, but because of what it symbolizes. They can tangibly see that someone thinks they are special, that they are worth writing to and caring about; they are reminded that they are being prayed for and thought of from friends in another country.