Moving smallholder farmers beyond subsistence to secure

Heifer International alternative gifts provide hope, opportunity for a lifetime

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—This season there is an alternative to gifts that are meaningless and quickly forgotten: a goat, a cow or a flock of geese. These alternative choices from Heifer International add a new dimension to giving, especially when the recipient promises to pass on their animal's first female offspring to a neighbor in need, multiplying the impact and the benefit.

We often hear about those honored by a Heifer International gift. For example:

"My grandfather used to raise honeybees, which helped him weather the Depression in the '30s. When he read his card telling about our gift of Heifer International bees to a hungry family, he smiled and then cried. He knows the meaning of finding a way through hard times. He knows that bees can double crop yields and provide candle wax, pollen for medicine and honey to eat and sell. Best of all, he didn't have to find a place for yet another gift he didn't really need."
--Anne Neuberger, Religion Teacher's Journal

Heifer International, which pioneered "The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World," enables a shopper to invest in an animal (or share of an animal) for an impoverished family to honor friends, family members, co-workers or others. Shoppers can find a wide range of gift donations to suit their budget, from a share of a sheep (whose thick wool provides a valuable source of income) to a cow (supplying enough milk not only for a family to drink, but also to share with neighbors and sell for cash).

Alternative gifts are like no other gifts—they are sustainable and help build security. Through Heifer, these alternative gifts multiply and grow, sometimes exponentially, and offer hope and new life to people facing grave crises of hunger and need. They are authentic gifts people use and cherish. They always fit and are never thrown away.

Those honored with the gift receive a free honor card that explains the direct impact it will have in helping to reduce hunger abroad and in the United States. Online donors have the added option to choose from an assortment of designs to download their own free personalized honor cards, which may be printed or emailed.

Alternative gifts are also rising in popularity as more people try to connect their global concerns with their everyday lives. A host of surveys have shown respondents prefer to make a donation to an organization that does good or to have a donation made in their name to a charity rather than give or receive a traditional gift.

Heifer trains families to manage grazing, plant trees and crops, and use natural fertilizer to keep the environment and animals healthy. This in turn supplies nutritious food for their children, and the extra milk, eggs and other products can be sold for income, which provides improved housing, education and health care.

Heifer helps smallholder farmers move beyond subsistence to food and income security.

This year, give gifts with meaning, where the only return is the life-changing benefit that families can enjoy year after year, and generation after generation. Avoid the musical chair parking madness at the mall; make a difference with a meaningful gift that enriches others' lives, that provides the greatest gifts of all—hope and opportunity.

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.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-696-1918.