Do kids get to choose something they really want with the birthday money?

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I understand the prudence in birthday gift funds being used to buy a child necessities, but I would like some assurance that their personal desire for a special toy etc. is fulfilled. Input? 
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mark bowen

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Posted 3 years ago

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Stephanie Barnard

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I am only a sponsor, but in my experience if a family is struggling the child will know and what to help the family out (and worry about their needs) instead of spending all the money on toys. I have a girl who bought 1 skirt and 2 socks, and then spent the rest of the money on food supplies (to stock pile for the upcoming months). However, the child, a caregiver, and a project staff talk to see what would be good options to purchase.
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mark bowen

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I didn't mean for anyone to infer that I meant all of the money. I've seen in these letters where people are sending upwards of $60 USD, (in hopes of getting a photo) which I can tell you, in a third world country, is a whopping bail of cash. So in a case like that I see no good reason why the child couldn't have something in particular that he or she wants for themselves.
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I'm also just another sponsor. I've had families who bought only food at first -- big bags of rice and corn, as well as other food necessities. In those cases, I've seen where the last dollar or two was spent on candy or a package of cookies (often noticeable because the child is holding it.). It really depends on the location and the family, but I think in some cases where they're just looking to survive for a while, a toy or something fun is just not at the top of the list. Some children would likely still go for the toy, but it may not be in their best interest at that point.
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Hi Mark. I can understand your thoughts. That is certainly what we expect here. But as I have gotten to know my children and their families, and try to look at things from their points of view, and learned about the conditions in their country, I might see things differently.

As a sponsor of 3 boys for 3 years, I can share what I have seen with the birthday gifts. One boy gets lots of cool new clothes every year; in addition he got a new ball 2 years and a backpack another year (he is a teen now). Another boy got shoes and clothes (including for family members), blankets and towels, and even cleaning supplies and toilet paper :-), as well as food. I am sure these are things that the family REALLY needed and was delighted to have. I think all families everywhere work together to survive, and I have no doubt that the sponsored child and all the family are delighted and very blessed by special gifts. When one is desperate for necessities, items like food, cleansers, and toilet paper just may bring as much or more joy than a toy. The other boy got clothes, shoes, hygiene supplies, food (which his family is so desperate to keep on the table); one year his treat was a birthday cake and a ball. One year the money was all used to purchase food and, yes, toilet paper! I imagine this must be a special treat to some.

I am just so thrilled that Compassion makes it possible for sponsors to bless these families in this way. I have no doubt that the children and their families are thrilled too. I am sure how the money is spent varies depending on each family's situation, but I have no doubt that it is a huge blessing!

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