Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the 11th Day of Christmas My Sponsor Gave to Me...

Eleven Scholars Hoping

My nephew and his wife had a baby about 2 months ago. This means that for the first time in 25 years, we will have a new little human in the family at Christmastime.

One effect Christmas has on me is introspection…not just on holidays past, but on my life in general. So, seeing the new addition of the Denton clan gathered around the sparkling tree and bundled up close (but not too close!) to the crackling fireplace this weekend, I started thinking back 25 years ago.

In 1983, I was still in high school and was earnestly contemplating what I wanted to do with my life…college was looming in another 2 years and there wasn’t much doubt in my (or my parents’) mind that I would be continuing my education after high school.

The reason everyone assumed this was because my parents had worked hard and saved – and they planned to help supplement my cost of attending college. My father had begun working right out of high school, pumping gas. He worked his way from there into a management position with a large, global company.

My mother postponed her educational goals to raise three boys. Shortly after I was born, she began earning a Master’s degree in education. Her thesis involved developing learning strategies…and I was her guinea pig. As a result, I learned to read at a precociously young age. I credit her with instilling a love of reading and a love of language that has remained with me ever since.

Without the opportunity to go to college, I have no idea where I’d be today…I’m certain I’d not be sitting here writing for Children International.

Looking at my great-nephew this weekend, I pondered the huge responsibility his parents have shouldered. And, knowing I needed to post an entry on the blog about our HOPE fund, my thoughts turned to college.

Like the cost of healthcare in America, the cost of education beyond high school has skyrocketed in the last 25 years. But in most of the places we work, it is still quite affordable, at least by OUR standards. That’s why our HOPE fund (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) is one of my favorite “ancillary” benefits that Children International makes available.

For very little cost, we can send deserving sponsored youth to college or vocational school, where they learn skills that often helps boost them above and beyond the dire poverty they grew up in. Time and again, we hear about former sponsored children who now have steady, good-paying jobs thanks to a combination of their own hard work and being the recipients of HOPE scholarships.

Most of the time, there is virtually no chance that their parents – unlike mine – will be able to help send them to college.

I hope my great-nephew gets that opportunity.

I also wish that every sponsored child who wants to continue their education had the opportunity to do so. Thankfully, the number of HOPE scholarship recipients has continued expanding over the years.

So, if I get the chance to ask the old, bearded, red-suited saint for one thing next year, this is my wish: a HOPE scholarship for every child who wants one in each of the 11 countries where we serve them.

I already know he makes deliveries there…because all of you are already making so many wishes come true.

Thank you…and have a great holiday!

Posted on behalf of Deron Denton.

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