Ben and I sponsor two children through Compassion International. One of the things I love about Compassion is the ability to send and receive letters from the children. The relationship that is built through the letters is beautiful, and it makes the monetary gift mean so much more than a simple donation.
Handwritten letter from Morgan Russell
to Jean Gabriel Lemoine, 1923
While I have known about Compassion’s online letter writing tool for quite some time, I have been reluctant to try it. There is just something so special about a handwritten letter. The extra time that goes into it, and the extra love that is therefore felt. The effort to use your best handwriting in an age where handwriting has largely been forgotten. The little scratched-out mistakes that reveal the humanity of the author. The feeling you get as a reader that you are holding a little piece of your loved one as you gaze at their handwritten words. A typed letter just can’t compare.
Yet, as much significance as I place on the value of a handwritten letter, I also know that for the children, pictures are just as significant. When I write by hand, I almost never include any pictures. It is expensive to print them at home, and we rarely have enough colored ink to do it. When I go to a store where I could print them, I never remember to bring them along. So, while I realize the pictures are incredibly special, I’ve only ever sent a few of them.
This is where I see the value of the online letter writing tool. When using this tool, I can upload up to three pictures to be included in my letter. The letter is written and submitted online, and when it is printed at Compassion’s headquarters, the pictures are printed in color at the bottom of the page. When writing online, there is nothing to keep me from sending pictures, so I always include them.
The other advantage to the online letter writing tool is that I can easily duplicate the letter to send to my other sponsored child. As soon as I submit a letter for one child, I are given the option to duplicate it for another child. Just change the name and any other personal references, and it’s good to go. That might sound incredibly impersonal, but when I’m writing them a random letter that’s not in response to one of their letters, I generally tell them much the same things anyway. While I will continue to write the more personalized letters in response to their own, this is a great way to show them love by getting even more letters into their hands.
Handwritten letter from Otto von Bismarck
to Mitchell C. King, 1846
So, does this mean that I will only be using the online letter writing tool in the future? Absolutely not. I still firmly believe that handwritten letters are precious, and I will continue to send them. No, the online letter writing tool will never replace my handwritten letters, but it will supplement them. In the past I have sent each of my sponsored children one letter per month. Now I will likely send at least two – one written by hand, and one using the online letter writing tool.
After finally trying the tool, I think it’s a great advantage for me and my sponsored children. Now they will consistently get the pictures that mean so much to them, they will get an extra letter each month because the tool makes it so quick and easy, and they will still get their monthly personalized handwritten letter.