Last year when I sent out Valentines, we only had 12 kids!! We picked up 3 more in the first few months of the year.....but now we are up to 36!!! I went to several stores to find everything I wanted to send for Valentine's Day.
The basis for any box of Compassion mail is letters, of course! Several countries throughout the world celebrate Valentine's Day, but not all of them do. In my letter, I explained that it's a holiday which celebrates love. I told my kids that it started out as a holiday for romantic love, but now we also use the day to remind friends, family, and classmates that we care about them! I explained a little about Valentines cards, and told them that school children hand them out to their classmates, but I like giving out Valentines, too. : ) I also said that people decorate things with hearts, and some people even wear pink and red, which are colors associated with the holiday. I also shared that many people get married on Valentine's Day, and that includes my parents!
I then went on to tell the kids that there are many ways we can show someone that we love them, all year long. Some examples I gave are helping our parents by doing our chores, sharing a toy with a sibling, or giving part of our lunch to someone who doesn't have enough to eat. I asked them how they thought they could show more love to the people around them. I closed with a reminder that I love each and every one of my kids tremendously, and shared a Bible verse- "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35.) I printed out coloring sheets to go with the letters as well. I just found them online, but if you click on one of the pictures below and save it, you can print it out as a coloring page, too!
Coloring page for younger boys
Coloring page for older girls
Coloring page for older boys
Coloring page for younger girls (which I realized after I printed it that it doesn't actually have hearts on it. Still cute, though!)
Then I got to work putting together gifts to send! I kept it simple for this holiday because I also needed to send several birthday folders and anniversary gifts (more on that in a bit.) Each of my kids will be receiving a photo of me and Brandon (which I took on our anniversary- he hates having his picture taken, so I took advantage of the opportunity!) and a Valentine's card. I thought about buying packaged greeting cards, but I couldn't find that many designs I liked, and each pack was $5 for six cards. After I bought one pack, I decided to find an alternative. A few retailers have some cards for 50 cents or $1 mixed in with their greeting cards, but I found the most success at the Dollar Tree! They have tons of cards from last year for 50 cents each, but the retail price is $2 and up! I picked out a ton to buy, and the sales clerk asked if I had left any for the other customers!
I also wanted to try to send some stickers or something along with the cards, so I found some sparkly heart stickers at Walmart, 8 sheets for $1.97. They also had some robot and owl stickers that I sent to the younger boys. Lastly, the Dollar Tree had some little party favors in their Valentine's section. I found tiny little heart-shaped notebooks that are wrapped in heart-printed foil (think of how the foil sticks to the paper on a stick of gum), and there were 8 notebooks in a pack! That's pretty good for a dollar! So all the girls got shiny heart notebooks, too!
After the Valentines were finished, I got to work on birthday folders. One of our new Kenyan girls has a birthday at the end of January, and I wanted to send her a gift, even though she'll be getting it really late (that would be Nkoyio.) Then in February, Christine has a birthday (I already sent Sharifa's birthday gift last month) and Victor's birthday is in March! Our "sponsor-versary" with Sandier is also in March, so I put together a gift for him as well.
Sandier's gift: a Spanish picture book, "thumb war" tattoos (from Walmart! So cool!), Planes stickers, and a card
Nkoyio's birthday gift: a folder, coloring pages and puzzles, stickers, a little notebook, a planner, a birthday card, a scripture card and a pretty picture taken by my mom, with a Bible verse on it!
Christine's birthday gift: a bright folder, coloring pages and puzzles, a Minnie sticker book, a fun book about space, more stickers, a scripture card, another picture from mom, and a birthday card.
Victor's birthday gift: a folder I decorated with soccer stickers, a paper airplane kit, puzzles coloring pages, a birthday card, stickers, a math activity book I found at Half Price (Victor talks about studying a lot) which incorporates Bible stories, and another picture from mom.
I already started working on April's gifts, since we have some early birthdays that month, but they're not quite ready yet. Even if I get them out this week, I will save the pictures for next time. : )
If you have sponsor kids, what kinds of cool extras and fun things have you sent them recently? Are you sending Valentines? I love hearing about what other people are sending out!