Growing up on a farm with a single mom who was working her way through college, we didn’t have a lot of extras. Most of my clothes were passed down from my older brother, and most of our food came from our flocks of sheep and chickens and from our garden. Only many decades later did I discover that for much of my childhood my grandparents had sent my mom money to help pay the mortgage.

In other words, I had a sponsor. Although my grandparents lived across the country and communicated mostly in letters sent through the mail, they made a huge difference by helping to provide me with a stable home.

At one time or another, we all need a little extra help to get by. And it’s a blessing when we are able to pass that help on. That’s why, nearly four decades ago, when my grandparents died, one of the first things my mother did with her inheritance was to sponsor two children through the Christian nonprofit Compassion International. At the time, I was about 10, and my brother was two years older. From a list of countries in which Compassion worked, Mom encourage both my brother and me to pick a country from which to sponsor a child. From my memory, the child I picked lived in South Korea.

Since then, I (and now my family) have been blessed to sponsor children in Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Indonesia. When the first child my mother helped me sponsor graduated out of the program at age 18, I sponsored another, and another. After all, where else can you send a child to school, provide medical care and nutritious food, offer a positive role model and a nurture a child’s spiritual faith, all for just $38 a month? In return I’ve regularly received letters from my sponsored children along with the knowledge that I am helping a child go to school and work toward a better life.

According to UNICEF, more than 1 billion children around the globe live in poverty. At estimated 22,000 die each day because they lack adequate food, shelter or medicine. These aren’t numbers. These are children – children with undiscovered gifts and dreams and parents who love them, the way you or I love our own children. Since its start in 1952, Compassion has helped more than 2 million children receive the education, food and care they deserve – along with the hope that comes from learning about Jesus.

On May 5th, “Compassion Sunday,” you too can make the difference in the life of a child by going online to and choosing a child to sponsor. Even with my grandparent’s help, my mom and our family faced some hard times. I’ve faced them with my own family, but no matter how difficult our experiences, I know that they don’t compare to the needs of a child in the developing world . That’s why I’m honored to be a Compassion sponsor.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Ten-percent of all royalties in her current Lantern Hill Farm children’s picture-book series support Compassion International. Connect at