Something special about sponsoring a child through Hearts & Hope is that you have the opportunity to stay connected with those students in a unique way. We hand-deliver different types of homemade packages to your student twice a year on our mission trips. It may seem like a daunting task to put together a packet for a child you’ve never met, but I assure you these students treasure every item in that package.
I get asked questions frequently about what to put in the packet - what size of clothing, how big the packet should be, do 16-year-old boys really want toy cars? etc. I am here to answer those questions!
To begin with, let me tell you how important the packets are to these kids. They look forward to receiving all the little trinkets and candy inside their packet, sure, but what truly hits home is the fact that they are receiving anything from their sponsor at all. It is a personal connection and each piece is treated with the utmost care. I’ve returned to Uganda to see my own sponsored kids with the small teddy-bears and dresses from years past, sometimes the dresses are on the smaller siblings, but they wear them proudly!
Imagine you’re eight years old and you get a package from your favorite sports team player or musical idol. To these kids, the sponsors are viewed similarly to those people. Although they have never met you, they know you, and it’s due to the communications they receive in these packets. What is treasured most is the pictures of you and your family. They will covet these photos and some even sleep with them under their pillow. When they get to put a face to their sponsor it motivates them to stay in school, have courage amidst a hard life, and look forward to a bright future.
On the mission trips we alternate the type of packets the students in each village receive. One trip they will get a smaller (communication) packet and the next they will get a larger (care) packet. The communication packets are 6 x 9 envelopes and should weigh less than twelve ounces. The care packets are 10 x 13 envelopes and should weigh less than one pound. We alternate like this to save space in our packing efforts as room is limited to the number of mission team members going on the trips.
For communication packets I recommend small, lighter items such as pencils, erasers, small toothbrushes, toothpaste, PICTURES, headbands, small matchbox cars, hats, letters, candy (not chocolate), stickers, chap stick, small books, small costume jewelry for girls. Avoid anything heavy such as: dice, decks of cards, hardcover books, large packs of crayons/pencils.
For the larger care packets I recommend anything mentioned in the communication packet list plus items like t-shirt for boys and dresses/skirts for girls. When it comes to size, I’d advise getting the size that matches what kids their age would wear in the US. Yes, many of the students are very skinny, however they can be very tall! If the sizes do not fit, the clothes will still get worn by a sibling or neighbor. Clothes never go to waste. Other items for the packet would be: flip flops, sunglasses, jump rope, small drawstring bag, Barbie dolls, collapsible water bottles, deflated balls.
How about those older students? This group usually enjoys clothes, sunglasses, wristwatches, deflated balls, pens/pencils, nail polish, deodorant, candy, beef jerky, lip gloss. What makes these older kids extra special is that they have the ability to read your letters and write more extensive letters back to you!
Things to never send: money, liquids, perishable food, anything fragile or of significant monetary value.
Of course, if you don’t have time to collect supplies and make a packet for your student, you can buy the appropriate one from our website and our staff will assemble it for you. No sponsored child gets left behind! We will always send sponsors reminders of when packets are due so you will know well in advance and have time to order or create one for your student. Hearts & Hope is so grateful for our sponsors and their efforts in keeping the connections with their students so strong. It’s truthfully the foundation of our mission and goals- Developing relationships, creating hope and transforming lives. Thank you for being a part of it!