Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Behind the Scenes: You’ve Got Mail!

One of the most thrilling parts of sponsoring a child is receiving letters and drawings from the child you sponsor. These letters and drawings form an emotional connection between sponsor and child and provide memories that last a lifetime.

But receiving that envelope in your mailbox is just the culmination of a pretty involved process – a process that begins at a Children International community center half a world away. In today’s post I want to give you a peek at what it takes for you to receive a letter from your sponsored child.

Often, the journey begins when your sponsored child visits the Children International community center in his or her area to write you a letter. Children who are too young to write will be accompanied by an older family member who will do the writing for them, but older children write the letters themselves. Many of our community centers serve around 5,000 children, so you can imagine the hustle and bustle at letter writing time!

When all the children have written their letters, the letters are collected and taken to the agency’s central office for scanning. Then they are boxed up and shipped to Kansas City. Just to give you an idea of the volume of letters, Jessica estimates that she handles 40-60,000 pieces of child-related correspondence every month!

Once Jessica receives the shipments of letters from the agencies (all 18 of them), she launches a complex process that involves scanning the letters again, creating an envelope file, printing the envelopes, folding the letters and matching letters with envelopes. To ensure accuracy and quality, each child letter envelope is hand-stuffed and double-checked before finally being mailed out to the sponsor.

You might think that, after handling so many letters from children to sponsors, child letters might lose their magic for our employees who handle the mail – many of whom are sponsors themselves. But Jessica assures us that’s not the case. “[The letters from my sponsored child] would have to be the letters that really touch me personally and I read over and over, and I can’t wait for the next one to come in the mail,” she insists.

There’s another unique angle to Jessica’s work, though. She is not the first person in her family to handle letters from children to sponsors. Until her retirement late last year after 41 years of service, Jessica’s grandmother, Dorothy Koch, also worked with child correspondence. And besides making sure you received your child’s letters, Dorothy always took care of another very important responsibility here at Children International: She was the one who put the coffee on to brew in the morning!

“I like to think that I have filled her shoes well,” says Jessica of her grandmother. “I think that she has helped me become the hard worker that I am today. Children International has a special place in her heart and I believe it does hold the same special place in mine.”

Jessica is carrying on her grandmother’s work in more ways than one. Your child’s letters are still reaching you safe and sound…and the coffee is still brewed fresh every morning.

Top: Jessica is a vital link between sponsors and their sponsored children.

Middle: Jessica and the smiling "Letter Ladies" of Children International.

Bottom: Dorothy seals 41 years of faithful service with a cake and the best wishes of all her co-workers.


Anonymous said...

Love the personal touch..putting CI faces on the website definitely makes me feel more connected!

Do more of this too....let us know about the staff at headquarters and all their hard work on our behalf! It would be great to see photos and read about other operations at CI.

THANKS to the Letter Ladies for their AMAZING work. I can't even imagine handling that much mail each month!

You all are INCREDIBLE..keep up the fabulous work keeping us connected with our kids!

evergreen3 said...

I agree. Managing the letters, distributing the sponsor contributions, working with the field staff, are activities that must require phenomenal talent and dedication. Getting to know the CI staff in KC as well as in each country would help personalize the entire process. Everyone does such a great job from the President on down, getting to know who does what would add more to the sponsorship experience. Just as a sponsored child becomes like family for us, the CI staff could become like extended family. Thanks for everything you do!

K.M. said...

I really look forward to the letters I receive from my children. The letters and photos are what makes sponsorship so special to me vs just sending money into a charity and hoping that it reaches the intended receipients. The relationship is special and I can see and read firsthand from the child how they are benefiting from my sponsorship of them.

Thank you for all you do to make these friendships possible!

Lori said...

Thanks for this "behind the scenes" story! I often wondered just what all goes into handling all these letters! :D I know I look forward to each and every one of the letters I get from each of my sponsored children - they help me feel so much more connected to them and make my day! I would also love to see what goes into getting and delivering each package we send directly over to the field offices for our children (I send to both the Philippines and Ecuador). It would also be interesting to see a typical day at one of the field offices from a child's point of view. (How often do they actually visit the field offices?) Thanks again! Keep up the good work! We all really appreciate it! :D (And enjoy the coffee!)

Dennismcmh said...

That was great reading. It's nice to know exactly what is going on at C.I. Each and every one of you are good candidates for sainthood as far as I'm concerned. I have sponsored my child Archie, from the Philippines for over six years now and I find it to be the most rewarding experience of my life. I love that boy as if he were my own. I only wish I could do more. I pray to God every night that He grant me a miracle to be able to visit Archie. I have watched him grow from a little boy of 6 years old to a young man of 13. I thank God each night for C.I. and for the chance to sponsor such a magnificent young man. Would love to see what goes on at the actual centers such as Legaspi City, Philippines also. Your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated by all I am sure. God bless all of you. Dennis