Sep 24 2012

Sending a package to your sponsored friend? Read this before you do!

In a North American tradition of the Christmas season, many gifts are sent through the mail.

Although sending a package to your sponsored friend by commercial delivery services may sound like a good idea, we recommend mailing your item following CFCAís guidelines.

In many of the countries where we work, mail from sponsors is sent to a post-office (P.O.) box address, and many commercial delivery services need a physical address to deliver packages.


Purity, CFCA sponsored child in Kenya, holds a letter from her sponsor.

If you want to send a gift to your friend through the mail, please observe the guidelines we have in place: Packages must be no larger than 9 x 12 inches, weigh less than a pound and be less than an inch thick.

We strongly discourage the shipment of larger packages as they result in high customs fees for the local CFCA project and run the risk of theft.

For a real-life example, click here to read about what happened when one sponsor mailed a large tackle box to their sponsored friend.

If your item fits our guidelines, great! Just make sure to follow this next step to help CFCA staffers as they deliver letters and gifts to sponsored children, youth and aging friends.

Whenever you send an item it is best to place it inside of a Ziploc bag and attach a label to the bag. The label should include your sponsored friend’s ID number and your CFCA ID number. You can use the same label on the bag that you would normally use to write a letter to your child.

Many times, sponsors will send a package or items with no identification. These items never get to the sponsored friends without a label, as the project staff does not know who should receive it.

Still have questions about sending items in the mail? Email us at or call Sponsor Services Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time. You can also feel free to leave a comment!

A simpler way

The best way to give something to your sponsored friend this Christmas season is to donate to the CFCA Christmas Fund. Through the Christmas fund, all sponsored children, youth and aging friends receive a gift and know the gifts they receive are from their sponsors.

Your donation provides gifts for sponsored friends that are culturally appropriate for your friendís community and purchased locally, helping to stimulate the area economy.

In addition, the most personally meaningful gift a sponsored friend may receive could be far simpler and less expensive than an international parcel shipment.

A sponsor’s heartfelt letter sharing about family and holiday traditions, or a family photograph are deeply meaningful ways to connect across cultures.

As CFCA staffers visit sponsored individuals and their families around the world, they are often greeted with these cherished items as prized family possessions.

7 thoughts on “Sending a package to your sponsored friend? Read this before you do!”

  1. So hypothetically if I found a small enough Ziploc type of bag to fit into a standard size #10 envelope And I labeled it I could put Little felt Animals with googly eyes, or paper dolls and things like this that are extremely light, and that would be okay?

  2. Hi,
    The USPS guidelines seem to indicate that an envelope (letter) must be less than 1/4″ thick and non-rigid or else it is considered a “package” (and then would presumably necessitate a customs form as well as much high postage). Can you clarify this for us?

    1. Dear Connie,

      Thank you for your question. Due to increasing customs fees and theft in international post offices, we ask that sponsors to not send packages of any size to their sponsored friends, as it will likely not be received. In many countries, our local program office must cover the cost of accepting a package. If you still choose to send something larger than a standard letter envelope, we ask that it fit in a 9×12 inch manila envelope or smaller. Unfortunately, cannot guarantee that it will arrive safely or be accepted by the local staff.
      -Sponsor Services

  3. I lost the mailing labels and need the address where I can send sponsor child a Christmas package in atitlan Guatemala. Please help.

  4. I purchased a 9×12 envelope at the post office. The clerk gave me a customs slip to make out for the package. Am I correct that if the “package” meets the CFCA guidelines that there will be no customs duties to be paid on it by the family? It is going to El Salvador.

    1. Thank you for your question, Mary! As long as your letter falls within our guidelines (9” x 12” x 1”, weighing less than one pound), it is still considered a letter and should not incur customs fees. Declaring a low value on the package also ensures this. We recommend including a note asking your sponsored friend to let you know when they receive the package.

      -CFCA Sponsor Services

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