How to send letters and gifts
Please keep in mind mailing routes have been impacted by COVID-19 over the last year. Most mailing is now back in service, but please continue to check with your local post office before mailing a letter or gift.
May I write a letter?
Writing letters shows that you care about your sponsored child and want to encourage his/her development.
Please note: Letters and gifts that do not follow these guidelines and contain culturally inappropriate subjects or items will NOT be passed along to your child. Check this guide carefully before writing or sending a gift to your child. Want more helpful tips on writing letters and sending gifts to your sponsored child?
What can I say in my letter?
Consider these guidelines in any communication to your child:
• Describe the members of your family.
• Discuss your favorite activities, hobbies, and sports.
• Briefly tell what you do at work, church, or school.
• Talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Provide a general description of where you live (no specific address). Tell them about the climate and land type.
• Ask your child the same types of questions about what they like to do, where they live, and what they are learning in school.
May I send a picture of my family?
Use a neutral background such as greenery or a blank wall. Please do not include material items such as cars, your home, toys, or other possessions.
What kind of letters and gifts may I send to my child?
You may send a 6”x9” or smaller envelope at various times throughout the year (send no more than 2 envelopes at a time). Please do not send a large package to your child.
Note to sponsors of children in Brazil: Please send letters only to your child; do not send gifts. Due to customs regulations, they will not receive them.
Letters or gifts should be put in a 6”x9” or smaller envelope with the child’s name and ID number written on it, and then into a second 8’”x10” or smaller envelope with the child’s address.
What small items can I send to my sponsored child?
For an elementary-age student you may send:
• Family pictures, matchbox toy cars, crayons, colored pencils, pens, stickers, small note pads, hair clips, jewelry, and small, thin books – activity coloring books, devotional books and Bibles.
For a middle or high school student you may send:
• Family pictures, colored pencils, pens, small note pads, hair clips, jewelry, and also small thin books - devotional books and Bibles.
What items should I NOT send to my sponsored child?
• Toys or stickers that depict snakes, spiders, tortoises, snails, frogs, or scorpions. Please also refrain from sending stick-on tattoos of any kind.
• Checks, cash, or personal contact information (email address, home address or phone number).
• Food or candy.
• Plastic bags are banned in Kenya, so please do not send or bring items to your Kenyan child in ziploc or other types of plastic bags.
Where do I send my envelope?
All correspondence with your child should be sent to the address listed on your community card. Please follow ALL of these steps when sending items:
1. Place your letter in a 6”x9” or smaller envelope with the child’s name and ID number written on it. Do not write your personal contact information/return address on this envelope.
2. Place this envelope into an 8”x10” or smaller envelope addressed to the location listed on your community card. As an alternative, you may also wrap the first envelope in brown shipping paper and write the address on the outside of the paper.
3. Place your return address on the outer envelope/shipping paper (international mailing requirements).
Check with your Post Office for the official weight and International Postage Rates. Do not send as priority, express, certified, or flat rate. If you are required to fill out a customs form, it is important to indicate that the contents of the package have zero (0) commercial value.
Do not send letters/gifts for your sponsored child to CMF International’s US office.
How long will it take my letter to reach my child? Allow 6 to 8 weeks for mailed items to reach your child.
How will I know that my child received my letter/gift?
Each child who receives a gift will write a thank you note to his/her sponsor. Please note that it could be several months before you will receive a thank you card in the mail.
Will I be updated on my child?
Your child should write to you at least once a year to let you know what is going on in his/her life. In addition, CMF will notify sponsors any time we are made aware of a major event that occurs in the life of your child.
You can also receive ministry updates for the program your child is in through our child sponsorship newsletter. You can sign up to receive these updates by visiting cmfi.org/signup.
Send a smile around the world!
Your letters are the lifeline between you and your sponsored child. Although your financial gifts are important, the personal connection and relationship you build through your letters means the world to your child.
PLEASE NOTE: Letters and gifts that do not follow these guidelines and contain culturally inappropriate subjects or items will NOT be passed along to your child. Check this guide carefully before writing or sending a gift to your child. Thank you for understanding.
Tips for writing letters
- Write often! Short, encouraging notes are greatly appreciated.
- Send a photo of you and your family in front of a neutral background. Do not include your home, car, boat, vacation site, or anything that depicts wealth. Avoid wearing swimsuits or revealing clothing in your photos. Be sensitive to the environment in which your child lives.
- Please avoid making statements such as, “I hope to meet you one day.” This could create disappointment if you aren’t able to follow through.
- Field teams do their best to pass on letters and gifts as quickly as possible, but we cannot guarantee that all sent items will reach the field. Please do not ask your child if he/she received previous letters or gifts.
- Write clearly in simple sentences. Avoid slang or cultural references that may not be understood outside American culture. Jokes and humor rarely translate well.
- Please do not include any personal contact information such as your mailing or email address or phone number in your correspondence.
- When you send a gift, include a letter. The relationship is often more important than the gift.
- Please do not send anything larger than one 6”x9” envelope at a time. Excessive, extravagant gifts can create a dependency on handouts that will undermine the ministry.
- Do not ask your child for suggestions what they would like you to send to them.
- Please do not send cards or gifts related to holidays that are not celebrated in your child’s country, especially Halloween.
- Avoid gifts that depict snakes, spiders, frogs, dinosaurs, tortoises, snails or any other reptiles, and any items that depict witchcraft or wizardry, or stick-on tattoos. These items can symbolize inappropriate things in some countries.
- Please do not wrap your gifts with wrapping paper. They will be unwrapped prior to delivery to your child.
- Do not send cash, food or candy to your child. Food attracts rodents that may get to your package before your child does.
- You should receive a thank-you note from your child for each gift you send, but it may take up to six months.
How to send your letters and gifts
Follow these guidelines to ensure the fastest delivery to your child. Allow 6-8 weeks for your correspondence to reach him or her. It may take much longer during the Christmas season. Please send Christmas correspondence no later than the end of August.
- Place all items into one 6”x 9” or smaller envelope.
- Write the child’s full name, ID number and school name on the outside of this envelope. Do NOT write a return address on this envelope!
- Place the first envelope into a second envelope, 8”x10” or smaller, or wrap the first envelope in shipping paper.
- Write the mailing address for your child on the outer envelope or layer of shipping paper. Include a return address. This layer will be removed by field personnel and will not be given to your child. This step protects your personal contact information from falling into the wrong hands.
- Check with the post office for the official weight and international postage rates. Do NOT send as priority, express, certified or flat rate.
- If you must fill out a customs form, indicate that the contents of the package are of minimal value; a few dollars, at the most.
IMPORTANT: Please send your correspondence directly to the address provided for your child, not to CMF. Correspondence received by the CMF office in the US will be returned to the senders.
Questions? Please contact the CMF office at 317.578.2700 or email.