Every year we get one holiday catalog that trumps all others. You might think it’s the latest phonebook-sized toy catalog, but you’d be wrong. Our household anxiously awaits for the annual Heifer International catalog, because each holiday, my daughters pour over it deciding between cows, goats, sheep, donkeys rabbits, fish, and more.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that while we do a lot of work at the local farm through 4H, we don’t actually live on a farm. So where does all this livestock we buy every year go? We send these animals to communities in impoverished areas who can use it.
My mother started my daughters on Heifers International when they were very young. She loved the idea of incorporating a donation in their name as part of their Christmas gift each year, and knowing what an animal lover my older daughter was (and still is), she picked this one as a good way to introduce the concept of charity. She allows my daughters to pick which animal they want to donate, and then as a Christmas gift to the girls, she buys them a stuffed animal of whatever they donated, so they can remember the good they did.
Empowering kids to provide input into donations is a wonderful way to turn them on to the concept of charity. And Heifer International outlines exactly how your donation will change a community. Do you donate chickens, which can provide an ongoing source of food by laying eggs? Do you help a community build a foundation of income with a donation of llamas to provide wool that can be sold? Do you invest in bees, which not only provide honey and beeswax to sell, but can also improve fruit and vegetable yields?
To me, this type of program teaches so many good lessons. You’re not just giving, you’re empowering a family or community. And your gift is sustainable. In addition to providing a variety of resources to eat or sell, most animals are donated sets, so the animals create more animals. Further, thanks to the way the Heifer International catalog relays personal stories, you learn about how dramatically one donation can make an impact. Much like FACES Magazine, you get an inside look at an international family or community and how they live. It’s amazing to understand the difference a set of ducks can make to a family in Bangladesh. My daughters have gone from choosing the “cutest” animals to donate, to reading each story and picking the donation made to the profiled family they like best, to really considering the long-lasting impact of the gift, and choosing the donation that does the greatest and most enduring good (wipes tear).
Editor’s Note: Another way to help your children do good for others is through Cricket Media’s Double the Giving program. Just have them pick out the subscription they want for themselves and Cricket Media will donate another subscription to one of two worthy organizations, Libraries Without Borders (LWB) or Parent-Child Home Program, who will get it to a child in an underserved community. Find out more at www.doublethegiving.com.
Cricket Media Mama also loves the idea of donating and wonders where she can donate 11+ years of stuffed animals in the shape of cows, bees, guinea pigs, geese, ducks, fish, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, llamas, rabbits, and tons of others.