The gift that keeps on giving – the Heifer Project
December 1, 2005
‘Tis the season – and with it comes the annual agonizing over what to get Uncle Henry or Cousin Sally. Oh the joy of decisions, like whether to give him a sweater he’ll never wear or a tie he can’t stand, or the dilemma of choosing between a cookbook she already has or perfume that makes her break out in hives.I’ve got a possible solution for those who love the joy of giving but aren’t so sure the “givee” feels the same.It’s called the Heifer Project. For more than 60 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and training to 7 million families around the world. They are a nonprofit 501c3 organization that helps hungry people feed themselves, earn income and care for the environment. A Christmas gift to someone in need, in the name of someone who doesn’t, can make this holiday truly holy.For instance, a donation of $500 in honor of Uncle Henry will buy a heifer for a family in a third-world country or right here in the good old U.S.A. That dairy cow can produce four gallons of milk a day, enough for a family to drink, share with neighbors and sell for cash. By adding protein to inadequate diets, milk helps make sick, malnourished children healthy. The sale of surplus milk earns money for school fees, medicine, clothing and home improvements. And then there is this bonus: Each family that receives a heifer passes on the gift of a female calf to another family in need. And because a healthy cow can have a calf every year, the gift of a heifer eventually could help an entire community move from poverty to self-sufficiency.
A mere $120, in the name of Cousin Sally, can buy a goat that can supply a family with up to several quarts of nutritious milk a day – a ton of milk a year! Extra milk can be sold or used to make cheese, butter or yogurt. Families use goat manure to fertilize gardens. And because goats often have two or three kids a year, the good folk who receive them can start small dairies that pay for food, health care and education. Instead of sending out our traditional plethora of sometimes unwanted and unneeded presents, why not give a gift of animals that will help families enjoy some new opportunities for health and self-sufficiency?Heifer International could put together an entire ark filled with animals for needy families all over God’s good Earth if we’d help. The ark might include: – Two cows to bring milk and income to a Russian village;- Two sheep to help families in New Mexico produce wool;- Two camels to help families in Kenya earn income by transporting agricultural and industrial materials;
– Two beehives to help families in Kentucky earn money through the sale of honey and beeswax;- Two llamas to improve livestock bloodlines and produce wool and income for Bolivian families;- Two pigs to enable families in Cambodia to attain greater self-reliance;- Two flocks of geese to help families in China better their nutrition and income through the production of eggs and meat;- Two flocks of chicks to help families in South Africa improve nutrition and generate income through the sale of eggs; – And a partridge in a pear tree! (Just kidding about the partridge.)There it is: a modern version of Noah’s ark. Total cost according to Heifer International would be $5,000. Remember that each family receiving an animal will pass on one or more of the offspring to other families in need.
We could build a global menagerie!The last time I put out this plea, Summit countians filled an ark and more. The need around the world certainly hasn’t gotten any less, but Summit County has certainly gotten bigger! Who knows what we can accomplish this holiday season? If you’re interested in building another ark, visit Heifer’s website at http://www.heifer.org and click on “Give” and then, uh, give. It may be the most meaningful gift you’ve ever given. I know Uncle Henry and Cousin Sally will be pleased. Rich Mayfield writes a Saturday column. He can be contacted at http://www.christianagnostic.com. His new book, “Reconstructing Christianity-Notes From the New Reformation” is available at http://www.amazon.com and other online bookstores.