Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cows, Goats and Other Critters

I wrote this article for Guideposts for Kids back in 2003 when our Sunday School raised funds for Heifer International. I came upon it this morning and thought it might be worth posting here. Such a worthy cause! Thanks for reading.

Just One Animal
By Susan Sundwall

Raise your hand if you know what a heifer is. Here’s a clue…moooo. Are you thinking …cow? Well, you’re right! A heifer is a young cow that hasn’t borne any calves. But if you’re a hungry kid in a small African village, a heifer might also be something else – a gift– one that will make a huge difference in your life.

Think about being hungry. When you go to the refrigerator and see food just waiting for you to chow it down, it may be hard to believe that some people worry about having food every day. But what if your stomach was growling and there was nothing to put in it? And what if someone heard about your hunger and gave you a cow, a goat or a sheep? Imagine all the milk, butter, cheese or wool you could have then. You might even sell some of the milk or cheese and buy a hot dog. Yum! The only thing asked in return is that you give another family the first female baby of your gift animal. Pretty cool, huh? That’s the whole idea behind Heifer Project International.

The Kids, The Goat and The Pail

The kids at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Sunday School in Valatie, New York know all about giving animals to hungry people. They worked with Heifer in the Kids (humans) to Kids (goats) program.  They learned a goat is sometimes called a poor man’s cow because most of the people in the world who drink milk, drink goat’s milk. Heifer provides gift animals to families in many countries. Goats make excellent gifts because they can survive where the land is harsh, eating grass and twigs, and still do well. At St. Luke’s, the human kids needed $120 to buy a goat kid.

There were plenty of ideas about how to raise the $120. The kids decided for themselves how to do it. “I emptied my whole piggy bank,” says Hannah, age 5, “I wanted to help the poor and helpless,” she says. Some made money doing errands. Others collected coins and rolled them. “I had lots of pennies,” says Lauren, age 6.

“We used posters, one of a goat and one of a family,” says project coordinator, Amy Deweerd. “As we got closer to our goal, we moved the family closer to the goat”.

Kids in the fourth grade class helped roll the coins that came in every week. “It was nice,” says Aldan, age 10. “It made me feel good”.

At the end of the program a few kids talked in church about Kids to Kids. Hannah was one of them. “I wanted to tell about helping poor children,” she says. There were baskets available at the end of the service for anyone who hadn’t had a chance to donate. When all the money was collected there was enough not for just one goat, but two! “I was surprised!” says Aldan.

Baaa - Quack – Oink

Cows and goats aren’t the only animals that can be donated. In some countries people are given a camel or a flock of chickens. Ducks, pigs, sheep or even water buffalo are given.

“It’s wonderful to see the effect just one animal can have on a family,” says veterinarian, Dr. James Geistfeld. He and his wife, Dr. Barbara Geistfeld, have traveled to many parts of the world with Heifer. For a recent talk at St. Luke’s, Dr. Barbara brought a live chicken for the kids to see.

“It was kind of odd to have a chicken in church!” says Christine, age 9. “But it was cool,” she adds.

“I wanted to hold it,” says her brother Stephen, age 7. “The chickens lay eggs that the families can share with other people.” There were also some exciting slides of the people and animals in China, Africa, India and Cambodia.

Pass On The Gift

The gift of a healthy, young animal brings prosperity to struggling families. They have food to eat and products to sell and the children are able to go to school. And when they are ready to pass on the gift to another family, a great blessing is shared. It doesn’t seem possible that just one animal can accomplish so much. But the kids at St. Lukes know it can and they agree with Lauren, “I hope we can do Heifer again!”

Image: franky 242                                              Free Digital Photos


  1. Susan, what a wonderful article which evoked such happy memories of my young children participating in this worthy cause at Sunday School. Happy day to you!

    1. Thank you, Linda. So glad to have stirred some good memories for you. Happy day back! =0)