When a generous business began sponsoring 1,000 children, we asked Queensland woman Nellie if she would consider becoming a correspondent to some of them. Nellie embraced the challenge. She started off writing to 400 children and today writes to an astonishing 900 children. The reason she’s so passionate about letter writing? She firmly believes letters encourage children and remind them that they’re loved.

How did you come to write to more than 900 children?

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I would be interested in writing to 400 Compassion sponsored children. At the time, I was in a bit of a ‘no man’s land’ and was wanting to do something that had purpose. I saw this as an opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives. Once I had worked out an efficient system to write to those 400 children, I was then given the opportunity to increase that number. The total has now grown to more than 900 children.

Why are you determined to write?

Who doesn’t enjoy getting a letter? Our own kids love getting letters in the mail. So we have made the assumption that other children love getting letters too. This assumption has been confirmed many times over by children thanking us so much for our letters or asking us to write to them or telling us that they are looking forward to receiving our letter in reply.

By writing to each of the kids, we can develop a relationship with them. The children are so grateful to receive our letters. We read in their letters how encouraged they are by our words. It is a wonderful way to encourage them and support them. The kids feel loved by us and get a sense that we really care about them. They share their letters with their friends and family, so these letters are not just touching one life, but many.

Can you tell us about the system you use to keep track of all correspondence?

I have a special database of all the children with their personal information. Included in the database are check-boxes for my letters: birthday, Christmas, general and hand-written. Once a month, Compassion’s Head Office sends me a large parcel of correspondence. When I receive the children’s letters, I read each one, and either respond immediately or make notes in the database to respond at a later date. I send off my own parcel of letters to Compassion’s Head Office at the end of each month. Finally, I file the letters into each child’s folder. Compassion’s Head Office and volunteer staff have been a wonderful support to me.

How many letters do you write each year?

A LOT! Each year I write up a Christmas letter, a birthday letter and a general letter that goes out to all of the children. As I receive letters from the children throughout the year, I write personal responses to them. Each child should get at least four letters a year from me.

What is the most moving letter you have received?

I receive a lot of letters so it is difficult to choose, but here are two that are special to me.

I received this letter from a teenage girl who had been waiting for a sponsor for quite some time. It really touched my heart and is a great reminder that God is trustworthy and looking after us. Anita writes:

“For some time I thought I had been left alone without a sponsor but one friend of mine encouraged me so hard and gave me a verse in the book of Psalms 126. He said, “God asked me to tell you that everything will be alright from now on… you’re to be victorious and achieve all your goals. Today Jesus visited your home. On His way out, He took all your problems with Him. Do yourself a favour and trust in God.” One week after the conversation we had, I was surprisingly told that I had got a new sponsor. I wish you could imagine the happiness that filled my heart. I thank God so much for you and because of what I am to you.”

Another letter from a newly sponsored child, Danny, expresses his heartfelt gratitude that now both he and his family know Jesus thanks to Compassion. He writes:

“I thank God for putting you in my life like my guardian angel for all the help that you have given me, for supporting me and especially your love for the children that are very grateful with our project. I tell you that before entering to the project, I didn’t know about God because my family just went to care for the animals, they worried about them; they didn’t think about going to church. Now that I know about God, I tell them and they are happy and go to church with me and my siblings. For that reason you are my biggest blessing, you are a precious gold that shines my way. I love you very much.”

The Compassion child development centres are making a real difference in these children’s lives, giving them opportunity, skills and hope.

Can you share your top letter writing tips?

  1. As soon as you have finished reading a letter from your sponsored child, write back. It is far easier to respond to a letter that is fresh in your mind, than to leave it for another time and probably forget altogether.

  2. Make a note or reminder in your calendar each year to send your child a birthday letter.

  3. Got a spare five minutes while you are waiting for someone or something? Use it to write a letter. Five minutes is all you need to write a few sentences.

  4. Now that Compassion is set up to write letters online in My Account, it is very easy to login and type up a quick letter. Keep your login details handy so you can login when you find yourself with a few spare minutes.