Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weekly Children’s Book Review: The Boxcar Children

My maternal grandparents lived in Dallas, Texas.  Often I visited them during the summer.  Grannie took me to the public library, where she let me check out books with her library card.  I checked out The Boxcar Children every time!  As I considered which children’s books to review this month, I thought it would be fun to revisit this old favorite of mine.  When I looked it up, I made quite a discovery.  It has been beloved by numerous children – so beloved that it’s only the first in a series!  I wish I had known this back in the day.

The Boxcar Children must have been one of the first chapter books I read.  Actually, I didn’t even know the term “chapter book” until just a few years ago when my nieces got old enough to read them.  I have bought them a number of books since they were babies.  I think I just happened to get them a chapter book that I thought they would enjoy, and my sister gave the parental seal of approval, saying that they had recently reached this reading milestone.  I don’t remember making the exact transition myself from storybooks to chapter books, buts it’s exciting when children become more advanced readers.

The Boxcar Children tells the story of four young siblings named Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.  They are orphaned and come to live on their own in an abandoned boxcar.  Resourceful and kind, they do an impressive job of taking care of themselves.  I still remember their visit to the dump, where they find such items as cracked yet still serviceable dishes.  Eventually, the four children are taken in by their grandfather, whom they previously – and erroneously – believed to be a cruel man.  Their grandfather even moves the boxcar to their new home together so the children can use it as a playhouse.

Maybe The Boxcar Children inspired my own childhood play.  I often pretended that I had to live on my own (or just with my playmates) in the woods or on an island.  It gave me a healthy desire to be independent and self sufficient, something that ought to be encouraged in every child.  Fortunately, I always had a safe and loving home to come back to when playtime was over.  If only every child could say the same thing.

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