chalice-canadaFor Christians who wish to live the commandment of loving our neighbors by making a commitment to perform corporal works of mercy, charitable gift giving and child sponsorship is very appealing. Many sponsorship programs help entire communities to help themselves. Most importantly, sponsorship provides children with proper nutrition, medical care and an education that helps them improve their future outcomes.

There are many sponsorship programs asking for our donations. For the sake of our hard-earned dollar as well as for the sake of the recipients, it is prudent to do thorough research before choosing a program.

MoneySense Magazine, Canada's best-selling personal finance magazine, annually compiles ratings of major international aid and development programs that rely on sponsorship dollars. This year, MoneySense awarded an overall rating of A+ to Chalice, a Catholic child sponsorship program. The grade is based on MoneySense's criteria of determining efficiency and successful governance. According to their report, 92.2% of money donated actually goes into programs.

The Mission Statement of Chalice clearly states their purpose, goals and values:"We are a ministry of the Catholic Community, creating and nurturing relationships of life and love wherever we serve. Our Value Statement: Sharing Christ with all in need. Our Core Values: Faith, Integrity, Commitment, Compassion, Respect."

Chalice's main work is in child sponsorship, providing "educational support, proper nutrition, medical care and the knowledge that someone cares" to children from the Ukraine, Kenya, Bolivia, India, Philippines, among many different countries. They also provide one-time gift giving opportunities to help finance specific projects such as building schools, houses, hostels, residences and daycare facilities. Purchasing gifts on behalf of our family and friends through their Special Occasion Catalogue will buy much needed items such as tools, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, medications, schools uniforms and educational materials for people who can't afford to buy them for themselves. For those who enjoy traveling, Chalice offers opportunities to participate in various mission trips.

Although Chalice is based in Nova Scotia, Canada, sponsorship opportunities are not exclusive to Canadian citizens. Jill Jackson, Communications Manager for Chalice explains:" We have many sponsors from countries including the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Philippines."

Chalice is a Catholic agency but its charitable works are not restricted to Catholic communities. According to Jill: "Although most of the agencies we work with are Catholic, the sponsored children are not always Catholic. The members of the communities where we help build projects such as wells and schools and provide programs such as nutrition and skills -building are not always Catholic.

Jill clarifies who can join their mission trips:  "Any volunteer from another country can join us on a mission trip. They can make the arrangements through our office."

My family is personally involved with Chalice. We sponsor Manuel, a young Chilean boy whose favorite school subjects are math, religion and art. With the convenience of monthly credit card deductions and at a cost of much less than a cup of coffee per day, we are able to reach out across the miles and join with our little brother in Christ. We are blessed to know our sponsored family member even if only through an occasional exchange of letters and pictures. He and his family are remembered in our evening prayers and his well-being is something we care very much about. Through letters, Manuel has told us that he is very happy to have sponsors who love him from so far away.

Sometimes one of my children wonder whether they will ever meet Manuel. I answer that perhaps one day they will, God willing. But even if they never meet on this Earth, they can still have the knowledge and assurance that in a special way, we are all joined together because in  God's family, distance and circumstance are secondary to love of neighbor and that always makes the world a smaller, friendlier place.

Those us who live in affluent countries can easily fall into the danger of becoming insular and comfortable. While we have material wealth, our souls are impoverished because we are preoccupied with our own wants and needs. In their special way, the children we sponsor, the projects we support and the mission trips we join help us, too. Sponsorship prompts us to look outwards, directs our gaze towards our brothers and sisters in need and in so doing, keeps our focus on Christ Who suffers and loves us in His little ones.

If you already sponsor a child through Chalice, thank you and God bless you. If you are thinking about getting involved in child sponsorship, go (here) and learn more about the wonderful work accomplished through Chalice.

Copyright 2013 Terry McDermott