The Holidays are coming soon, and that means FCNI’s annual Sponsor a Child for the Holidays gift gathering campaign is well under way. Last year, the community fulfilled over 1000 wishes through Sponsor a Child—an impressive number that brought immense joy to those we serve, as well as a lot of inspiration and gratitude from our staff. This year, we will have an even greater need. At the end of each summer, we ask our children and youth to fill out their “Wish Lists” for the holidays, which we then distribute throughout our community. Our staff and volunteers work with local churches, businesses, service clubs and individuals, providing them with the opportunity to make a child’s holiday wish come true. Obviously, there is a lot of work involved in this effort, requiring many helpful hands from our community to make sure every wish is met and distributed to every child, youth and family we’ll serve this holiday season.
There are many reasons to become involved in Sponsor a Child, but, one of the most important aspects of this annual effort, is how it encourages us all to look outside of your own circumstances in order to help fulfill the need of someone else. As a parent, demonstrating to my little ones how vital it is that we go through life looking for and taking every opportunity to help others, can be challenging, especially in today’s immediate gratification world. But Sponsor a Child is such an opportunity--this community effort providing local families with a unique and important way to help cultivate the “giver” inside all of us, especially our children.
Maria Roberts, a long time Sponsor a Child supporter, recently shared with me why this effort is such an important part of her family’s life. Born in Nicaragua, Maria’s earliest memories are of her large and generous family; both her parents and grandparents enjoying immense prosperity in their home country. During her childhood, Maria was raised to always give back to others; sharing the blessings her family had been given with those not so fortunate. Sadly, Maria’s life in Nicaragua was violently cut short when the country was ravaged by war in the early 1980s; and in 1981, when Maria was only 12, she and her family fled to the United Stated for their safety. Once here, Maria’s family found themselves having to start over from scratch. However, their traumatic situation didn’t alter her family’s dedication to others or dampen their desire to help whenever and however they could. As Maria states, “When we had no money to give, my mom encouraged my sister and me to make cards for our neighbors, sharing our hearts in a way that we could.”
Years later, married and raising her own children, Maria and her husband carried on this family tradition, and giving during the holidays was naturally embedded into their children’s childhoods. When Maria learned about FCNI’s Sponsor a Child effort, she knew it would be a real, tangible way to teach her children about giving—her kids could not only help fulfill wish requests, but they could select the Wish List cards themselves. As Maria explains, “It’s very powerful when they see a child their age listed on one of those cards. They stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about that child.” This aspect of Sponsor a Child is one of the most important ones for Maria, her stating, “I have always stressed to my kids that giving is about the person they are gifting, not themselves. I want to open their eyes to see others’ needs, not just at Christmas, but in every situation…to see that the world is so much more beyond their own lives and their own circumstances.”
Maria recently asked her 10 year old daughter why she likes participating in Sponsor a Child, and she answered, “It’s because it makes me think of others and not myself,” a response which makes Maria’s efforts all worthwhile. And for her kids, the annual effort is something that they look forward to doing year after year, her stating, “For them, it’s sharing, not just giving—they want to share their happiness with others; to make someone else happy. And they look forward to doing it every year…to picking out a wish list card, and thinking of the child listed and how they can make them smile.”
By exposing our kids to the needs of other children, we’re teaching them a lifelong behavior of taking an active role in improving lives, in bettering our community. What a gift Maria and others like her are giving to their children when they encourage them to participate in efforts like Sponsor a Child—it’s a gift that will hopefully inspire many others.
Interested in fulfilling a Wish for Sponsor a Child?
Here’s how you and your family can help:
- Sponsor an individual wish
- Share the opportunity to give with your church or other community organization
- Sponsor multiple wishes through your business
- …Or you can do all three!
To sponsor an individual wish online:
- Visit FCNI.org/wish or give us a call at (805) 781-3535 for more information on selecting a wish list card
- Fulfill all gift requests on your selected wish list(s)
- Drop off all unwrapped gifts by November 30th and, if possible, include a gift bag for wrapping. We always run out of gift bags, so if you have some to give, please send them our way
Thank you for supporting Sponsor a Child—we appreciate you Being the Difference this holiday season!