From my own experience with Roma kids I had learned that it is not good to approach them by giving them all kind of gifts; through this you risk to develop a wrong mentality in themselves: “The wretched, pitiable me – I cannot do anything to change my situation, therefore just you can help me and you must provide always everything I need.”
If you wish to work with Roma kids as part of the church, or school, approach them without offering them sweets or other goods. Start by playing all kind of sport activities or fun activities with them. Seek first to earn their trust. Make them to feel valuable through your attention, through your love, through your respect. Don't try to buy their trust through your goods.
I know sometimes there’s the risk that the articles you are using for these activities will “disappear.” Be smart and use natural material or cheap material, or something which you made of it. If your activities will be longer than two hours, feel free to give the children a sandwich or a snack.
Only after you have made them friends and they trust you, consider reinforcing all their good habits with a small reward. For example, depending on the child’s behavior, they might earn a toy or some clothes, or any toiletries article. Reward their seriousness toward all the activities, goods, tasks, other people. Reward their frequent attendance (not very often, but do it), and reward any good habit.
Do not create unrealistic, unnecessary needs through your gifts and do not create the image of a cheap grace. To develop harmoniously each child needs love, security and interaction with all the natural elements (air, sun, water, ground, plants, animals . . .). They do not need expensive toys. Spending time in nature will require more time from you, but on this way the child will become a practical person who will know what to do with the least of goods that he has got.
It is true that the mass-media is working hard to awake in us needs which we don’t in fact need, “needs” which enslave us and make us selfish and egocentric people. Let's not promote the mass-media goals by our work, but focus on sharing the love of Christ.