Somewhere in a forgotten corner of the United States or 47 other countries around the world, a family struggling with hunger and poverty could help sustain itself if it had some livestock.
Fortunately, you can fund all or part of the cost of helping such a family through Heifer International, which for more than 50 years has provided farm animals and training in sustainable agriculture to poor families with marginal resources.
So if you're looking to give a gift that's both unique and meaningful, start a new tradition this holiday season; donate a sheep, cow, or any other farm animal in honor of your mother, father, grandparent, teacher, client or anyone close to your heart.
Here's how it works: A goat costs $120 (or a share for $10) and can supply a family with several quarts of milk each day. Extra milk can be sold or made into cheese, butter or yogurt. A llama is $150, and a water buffalo is $250. Heifers are $500 ($50 a share), chicks, ducks and geese are $20, and a hive of honeybees is $30. Honorees receive a unique gift card that describes the generous contribution made in their name.
Once the family has completed training and prepared appropriate facilities, they will receive the animal that Heifer International provides.
This animal will provide wool or milk or transportation or eggs - and a promise of new hope and peace for this family. Surplus products are sold to give them extra income for school supplies, medicine and housing improvements.
Every recipient family promises to "pass on the gift" of its animal's offspring to another family in need. Then the next family to receive an animal and training makes the same promise, and so on until an entire community is lifted out of poverty and into self-reliance.
Heifer International provides the answer for donors who are looking for more accountability for what their charitable dollars are doing and who desire more specific, sustainable remedies to poverty and care for the Earth.