Surrey has topped the child sponsorship league this year according to charity Action Aid.
At the end of 2011 more than 2,363 children had been sponsored by people living in the county – enough to fill 80 primary school classes.
Children in poverty were sponsored under the Action Aid scheme right across the world including countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
Dawn Wyatt from ActionAid’s child sponsorship team said: “At a time when life is financially harder for most of us, the generosity of people in the UK is inspiring and absolutely vital in supporting ActionAid’s work.
"We want to thank all those people who are already helping us by sponsoring a child. We also want to show that there are thousands more children around the world who desperately need our help. For them December is often just another month of starvation and not a festive season.”
ActionAid’s ‘Sponsor a Child’ programme puts sponsors in contact with children in the developing world, allowing donated money to benefit them directly.
Would-be-sponsors select online, from the website , the continent (eg Africa) in which they would like to sponsor a child. (Alternatively they can choose a child currently in the most deprived circumstances from around the world). The web site then brings up the details of a child according to the criteria that the would-be-sponsor specifies, with a picture, details of their age, hobbies and situation.
If the sponsor wishes to go ahead, the sponsorship can begin right there in then. Sponsors fill out a form and a direct relationship is set up between the sponsor and the child.
Sponsors are sent an information pack with further details about the child. The sponsor can, in turn, then communicate with the child directly by sending letters and cards.
The charity keeps the sponsor updated on the work that is being carried out in the child's community in partnership with local people. Sponsors receive reports on the progress of the child, including such information as how they are getting on at school.
The sponsor's support provides the essentials a child needs to survive such as clean water, basic healthcare and enough food. It also provides an education to try to break the cycle of poverty.
But, the charity points out, the direct relationship between the sponsor and the child also gives the child hope through the knowledge that someone cares. Although each is of course different, every sponsored child has one thing in common says the charity - the knowledge that someone thousands of miles away cares enough about their future to help them.