For holiday giving this year, try giving a crap

Waste from Heifer International cows, goats, rabbits create plenty for families

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Nov. 02, 2011) –This year when it comes to holiday giving, give a crap. In fact, give a gift that gives a crap. An animal from Heifer International—a cow, goat, sheep, llama or camel—whose crap helps feed a family working hard to pull themselves out of hunger and poverty.

The crap—manure collected and used as fertilizer on smallholder family farms—increases crop yields, is healthier and costs less than commercial fertilizers, and can be used for cooking in a biogas stove.

Considering that smallholder farmers—farms supporting a single family with a mixture of cash crops and subsistence farming—grow 70 percent of the world’s food, but are at greater risk of being hungry and poor than most, there’s no shortage of need for more and more crap. That’s not s0 for the kind of crap people typically collect at Christmas—clothing they don’t like or need, or cheap plastic toys that break shortly after Christmas and then spend a hundred lifetimes in a landfill.

And crap is just one of the many benefits of an alternative gift from Heifer International. Others are eggs from chickens and ducks that provide protein, wool from sheep, llama and alpaca that can be sewn into sweaters that protect against the cold of the high Andes in Peru, milk from cows and goats that can also be used for cheese and yogurt. All of these can be sold for income, too, to help pay for medicine, school fees, purchase land or more animals.

Giving a crap starts a cascade of benefit for families in the United States and around the world that struggle daily to feed themselves, provide for their families. But there’s another side to giving a crap—the more traditional side, the side where it means caring about something or someone. For Heifer International, that means doing what you can to give a family hope and opportunity.

Heifer International families aren’t looking for handouts. They are looking for hand-ups, the chance to use their own energy, their own ingenuity, and their own entrepreneurial spirit to build a better life. The alternative gift of a cow, goat, pig, water buffalo is simply a catalyst that ignites that transformation, a tool that people use to diversify their diet, till more land for crops to eat and sell, to rent to neighbors as draft animals, etc.

And with Heifer’s Pass on the Gift requirement, where families that receive an animal promise to pass on the first-born female offspring of that animal, along with training in its care, to another family in need, they are, in their own way, giving a crap, too. They become donors, perhaps for the first time in their lives, and become part of the growing chain of prosperity.

But it all begins with giving a crap—literally and figuratively. The animals make waste and the families make haste with that waste, improving gardens and cooking cleaner and more safely. And your gift of a an animal in someone’s honor, or asking for the gift of an animal in your own name, inspires others to join the circle of giving, expanding the number of families helped and reducing the rolls of people poor and hungry. It passes the smell test in every way.

So give a crap … give or ask for a living alternative gift that will change lives.

For more information, visit or call (800) 696-1918.

Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 50 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant.