Thursday, May 24, 2012

Letter Writing

I've been feeling like I want to re-visit the topic of writing to our sponsored kids regularly. For some of you, I might be preaching to the choir. For others, this might be the encouragement you need to sit down and write that letter.

Other than "write regularly", there is no "one size fits all" prescription when it comes to letter writing. But I have several ideas to share with you, and one of them (hopefully) will resonate with you.

Write Regularly
What do I mean when I say "write regularly"? Well, for each person this might look different. Personally I write to our kids once a month, regardless of whether or not we've heard from them. It helps me to know that this is something I do monthly.

Decide how often you want to write. Once a month? Twice a month? Every six weeks?

I don't know about you, but I know that I do much better when I am being held accountable for things. If I write something on my calendar, I am much more likely to follow through in a timely manner.

  • Decide when you want to write and schedule it.
  • Invite others to join you in writing letters - either in person or virtually. Both are great ways to be accountable to one another.
  • Share with others when you've written your letters - in person, through email or through some other social networking device.recent letter writing event at my church

Keep Records
Find a system that works for you so you can keep track of when you write to your kids. Personally, I keep a spreadsheet with all our kids' names, child sponsor number, when we sponsored them and their birth dates. I then record the dates of when I write as well as the amounts and dates of birthday and family gifts. The more children you sponsor/correspond with, the more detailed your list might need to be.

Respond Quickly
In addition to writing letters on a regular schedule, it is wonderful if you can respond quickly when you receive a letter. Ideally, try to respond the same day - either by logging into your Compassion account on line or by sitting down to write by hand.

Be Organized
Have a designated spot to keep all your letter writing materials together. I have a zippered binder that I keep my records and received letters in. If I ever get the opportunity to write letters outside of my home, all I have to do is grab my binder and I'm ready. I keep extra stationary, extra pen, extra stickers and pictures to send all in this binder so it's always ready. I rarely use it this way, but it's nice to know I can and that it's ready to go.

After I have responded to letters I've received, I file them in the binders I keep. I also keep all our extra stationary, stickers and other goodies in two file boxes.

Get a Correspondence Kit
I try to hold giveaways for these once a month here at Compassion Family. If you've never won one, you can always get one by simply making a $10 donation to Compassion in any form you wish. Each correspondent kit has 13 sheets of paper (one for each month of the year, plus a birthday themed one). This is a great way to have the supplies you need for an entire years' worth of letters. You can read more about these kits HERE.

Encourage Others
I do not own the idea of correspondence kits. Put together your own kits and give them to others as a way to encourage them to write to their kids. Often when I am encouraging others to do something, I'm more likely to do that very thing myself. By using this blog to write about letter writing and by holding monthly events at my church, I am forcing myself to make good on my word and do what I'm telling others to do. Encouraging others is another form of accountability for me.

Plan Several Months Worth of Topics/ Themes
I got this idea from Kayla several months ago. She wrote a post about how she planned out her future letters. I've never done this, but am hoping to find a few minutes this week to make a general letter theme schedule for the summer months. I need to use up some of my letter writing stock-pile and by planning ahead I will make better use of the supplies.

What other ideas do you have that you can share with us?
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