By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor
This month, in cities and towns all over the U.S., Unbound sponsors will be receiving Christmas cards from their sponsored friends. A small expression of cheer, gratitude and creativity, these cards have become a cherished Unbound tradition. But what sponsors may not realize is that when their card arrives in their homes it is at the end of a very long journey.
In most of our 21 countries, the process of creating Christmas cards begins in the summer. Following a few practical guidelines set by the Kansas office, the various project staffs form their individual plans. Some will create themes or design templates, while others set wider parameters that allow for more personal creativity.
Once the overall plans are made for each project, they are communicated to the various local communities. There the sponsored children, youth and elders gather in community centers to make their individual cards. These gatherings are usually lively and fun-filled events where local Unbound staff provide materials — paper, markers, scissors, glue and whatever else might be needed — and then let the artistry shine forth.
The finished cards are collected in the local communities and sent to the respective project headquarters, in turn to be sent to Unbound’s Kansas office. They begin to dribble in to Kansas in October, and by early December every available inch of space in our mail room has been filled with the more than 300,000 Christmas cards — one from each sponsored person — reflecting the diversity of the Unbound world.
In Kansas, processing the cards takes time since each must be double-checked to make sure it is going to the right sponsor, combined with our general Unbound Christmas card, and placed in a pre-labeled envelope. While our dedicated corps of volunteers works hard to get the cards out in a timely way, the sheer volume is more than they can handle.
Caption: Staff from Unbound in Kansas City prepare Christmas cards to be mailed to sponsors.
This is where our Unbound Kansas City staff comes in. No matter what department each person works in, or what our normal daily duties might be, at this time of year we are all pressed into service like Santa’s elves. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
With Christmas music in the background and hot mugs at the ready, we gather in large and small groups at various spaces around the building for an hour here, an hour there — however long it takes — until the last card has gone out. As we work, we visit with our coworkers, smile over the artwork of the children, and imagine what it will be like when Joe in Spokane and Martha in Richmond open their cards.
By the time a sponsor receives an Unbound Christmas card, many hands have touched it. Some are small, active hands filled with crayons and glue sticks. Some are large hands, calloused from lifting palettes filled with letters onto trucks. And some are gentle, wrinkled hands that have known many blessings and seek now to pass them on.
Each hand adds its own loving touch, and the final one is that of the sponsor.
Want to send your sponsored friend a message? Try sending an eLetter.