Philanthropist Ellie Guettler of Atlanta recently wrote a $500 check to help Heifer International fight hunger. Her gift provided two milking water buffaloes for an impoverished family. What is unusual about that? Ellie is only 5 years old. Ellie is not alone. Children are responsible for contributing more than $1 million a year to Heifer International, which has been providing cows, goats, chickens, sheep and other animals to families in 50 countries around the world for more than 60 years. These animals allow the families to have milk, eggs, wool honey, and many other benefits.
Ellie's parents say they want to teach her the habit of sharing by contributing to Heifer because it is a simple, concrete way of helping to end world hunger.
"We want Ellie to do a service project every year as her birthday gift back to the world. She picked Heifer since we live in the city and she can't have farm animals of her own," said Katrina Guettler, Ellie's mother. "So she sent a birthday letter to all our neighbors and friends asking them to save their change."
Ellie collected $660 in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. As a thank-you gift for their contribution, she gave each person a handmade candle.
"We both learned that people are generous and want to make a difference, but sometimes they don't know how or they need motivation," Guettler said. "She also learned that a little bit of change, which we take for granted, can collectively make a big difference for someone with less opportunity."
Ellie likes to read the bestselling picture book "Beatrice's Goat" by Page McBrier that tells how a goat from Heifer International changed the life of a young girl in Uganda, and she knows the story by heart.
"I feel bad that so many kids don't have food and can't go to school, so I hope that if I help a Heifer project, they can have food and go to school like Beatrice," says Ellie.
Children can participate in raising funds for Heifer International by reading books, making and selling bookmarks, hosting bake sales, or making donation cans with pictures of animals from Heifer's holiday catalog to help collect money toward the purchase of gift animals.
They can also see farm animals and learn about solutions to world hunger on visits to Heifer's three hunger education centers in Arkansas, Massachusetts and California.