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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.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Get Someone’s Goat – No Kidding!

Goat milk is rich in protein and makes tasty cheese and yogurt.  Goats thrive on otherwise unproductive land and are often fed in zero-grazing pens to keep them from eating ground cover and crops and damaging fragile terrain.  Their families supply them with food and water, including twigs, leaves, and grasses.

Goat Facts
  • A goat can give up to a gallon of milk a day.
  • Keeping a goat costs about one-sixth as much as keeping a cow.
  • Children who can’t digest cow’s milk can often drink goat’s milk.
  • Goats often give birth to twins or even triplets.

Goat Tale
Goats are friendly creatures that nuzzle your hand and nibble your buttons—they’re curious to find out all about you.  Sometimes, Heifer goats build friendships where there were only bad feelings before.  That’s what happened in Albania.  An unsettled political situation and economic hardship had everyone on edge, especially in Alarup, a mountain village where Heifer has a goat-development project.  People there depend on goats as a primary source of income.  Two families, both members of the Heifer group, had been feuding over politics for decades.  Things came to a head when a young man from one family and a young woman from the other wanted to get married.  Their families refused, and the unhappy young woman was married off to a lad from another village.  Twenty years later at a Heifer group meeting, the two saw each other again. How would the families react? The Heifer group came to a wise decision.  “We will pass on the offspring of our gift goats to these two families first,” they said.  A longstanding feud ended; the villagers cheered, and, from all appearances, the goats were happy, too!

But Wait, There’s More!
If you want to give a Heifer animal in honor of a loved one, here’s a fun add-on.  Along with the Heifer honor card, give your loved one an inexpensive item associated with that animal.  It might be something very practical, too.  For example, for Christmas I gave my mother and stepfather a Heifer International goat plus a variety of products containing goat’s milk, including soap, lotion, cheese, and caramels.  Additionally, I made them a crafty goat with clothespins, a Popsicle stick, and a piece of pipe cleaner (see my Living Gift Market post on December 13).  Also, my mother had said she would like a purse hanger, which allows you to hang your purse from a restaurant table rather than place it on the floor.  Can you believe that for just a few dollars, I found a purse hanger with a goat on it?

I added one other item to their gift assortment: a yeti Christmas tree ornament.  This has significance for several reasons.  First, I bought the ornament at a bazaar that had merchandise from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer.  Proceeds from the bazaar benefitted needy families in my own community through the ML&J Fund, my June charity in A Year of Centuries.  In addition, the legend of the yeti comes from Nepal, a country where my stepfather has done extensive work.  Finally, Heifer International has a special goat project in Nepal this holiday season.  Nepalese women are now facing extreme gender discrimination.  Heifer will provide goats and business development training to these women, allowing them to transform themselves into powerful small-scale farmers and business women.  Even more potent, a group of generous donors has given $3 million in matching funds for this initiative.  Therefore, the gift of a Heifer International goat provides not one, but two animals.  That’s a goat worth getting!

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