Success Stories

What Teachers Have to Say

Students Read Their Way to a Better World

Lakewood third graders raise funds for Heifer to help families in need.

Twin Lakes, Wisconsin — Third grade students at Lakewood school have been busy reading books for pleasure, to become better readers, and at the same time they have been helping end world hunger and improve the environment through Heifer International's Read to Feed program.

The sponsored program helps students raise money for Heifer to provide livestock, seeds, trees, and training to families in need around the world.

My favorite part is knowing that I am helping save lives by reading.

Lylia Okane, Lakewood 3rd grader

With Read to Feed, students enlist sponsors who pledge donations—a dime, a quarter, a dollar a book, any amount, really. Then they read, and as they finish more books, the pledges grow higher until at the end of the program, the children gather the pledges, pool their money and donate the total collected to Heifer to use to help families build sustainable lives and to become self-reliant.

No matter the size of the gift, the impact is great. Just $20 buys a flock of chicks, which can provide a family protein through eggs and an income. For $60, students can buy trees to provide fruit for a family and at the same time help protect the soil. For $120, students can give a family a goat, which provides milk for the home and to sell for income to pay for school fees, medical care and to use to build a better, more hopeful life.

At Lakewood School, students raised $830 enough to purchase a cow, a goat, a pig, a trio of rabbits, and a flock of chicks.

I am glad we did the Heifer project because with the money I raised I helped save a life.

Abigail Henry, Lakewood 3rd grader

The gift will continue to grow through Heifer's cornerstone Passing on the Gift. With this, each family agrees to share their animal's first-born female offspring, as well as the education and training they received, with another family, multiplying the benefit. Receivers become givers and over time a community is lifted.

Through Read to Feed, not only are the children learning to love to read, but they are also learning how wonderful it feels to help others in need, and the needs of hungry and poverty stricken families can be satisfied, too. Read to Feed is an exciting adventure for children. Along the way, they learn many important lessons. They learn about different cultures around the world and learn the importance of using the Earth's resources wisely. They learn the value of self-reliance. Maybe most important, they learn that they can make a difference in the world.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports Read to Feed

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — At a time when fewer children are reading fewer books, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel and Gandhi Prize recipient and human rights activist from South Africa, has voiced his support for Heifer International's Read to Feed® program in his home country.

Read to Feed fosters a love of reading in children while at the same time empowering them to raise funds to help Heifer International end hunger and poverty and protect the planet. Heifer International South Africa's program helps raise awareness of the 12 million South African families that daily face food insecurity—don't have access to safe, affordable, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

“I strongly support the Read to Feed program,” said the retired archbishop. “Join me in helping our children learn, from a young age, both the joy of reading and the great honor of being part of changing the world for the better.”

Read to Feed is more than a reading program. It gives children the chance to change the world. By reading and collecting pledges for each book read, children contribute to Heifer International's mission, in South Africa and elsewhere.

Heifer International South Africa is a legally separate entity—a partner with whom Heifer International contracts to assist in or carry out some part of its work to end hunger and poverty.

Active in South Africa since 1999, the Heifer South Africa partners with impoverished rural communities to help them become food secure and build small businesses. Through gifts of training and livestock, project members become small farmers with a sustainable income and regular access to healthy food.

In South Africa, the program has been successful in many schools such as Crawford Preparatory School in La Lucia, Scottsville Primary School in Pietermaritzburg, St. Mary's Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, and Bishops Preparatory School in Cape Town to name just a few.

Seventh-grader Daniel Stainforth, from Crawford Preparatory School, said, “I feel we can afford to help, but others can't. No one really motivated me before to read books. But in this case, (knowing that I am helping others) has motivated me.”

Sacred Heart students raise funds for Heifer International

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: — MORRILTON — At the beginning of the school year, Heather Zinser's fourth-grade class began collecting money for a Heifer Project International program called Connecting Small Family Farms to the Market. The students set a goal of $150—and they exceeded it.

Once the money was collected, Zinser projected the online Heifer catalog on her Smart Board. The students compared the animals and voted to purchase a goat and a flock of ducks.

According to the Heifer website, “The gift of a dairy goat can supply a family with up to several quarts of nutritious milk a day. Extra milk can be sold or used to make cheese, butter or yogurt. Ducks add protein to a project partner's diet from eating eggs, money in their pockets from selling eggs and ducks, and better crops in the fields, as ducks remove weeds and bugs and add fertilizer.”

These animals will provide families with a better future for themselves and for their communities.

“The Heifer Project is an awesome organization,” Zinser said, “and I am so proud of my students for being so enthusiastic in wanting to help a family and to change their lives for the better.”

To raise the funds, students contributed their allowances or worked special projects, such as selling bracelets.

Student Madison Harper was a big part of the project. She asked for donations from her grandparents and sold bracelets and hair clips that she made with her mom.

“I am happy that our class was able to help people who do not have a lot of money,and I'm happy my teacher, Mrs. Zinser, thought of this project for us to do throughout the year,” Madison said.

Westwood world cultures students raise funds for clean water in Africa

Elyse Kaner: — Students in Tricia Miller's classes at Westwood Middle School recently raised $876, the largest amount so far among her world cultures classes, to help people half-way around the world.

“I do the project to teach the students that the world is a lot bigger than Blaine, Minn.,” Miller said.

In an effort to foster empathy and the joy of giving, Miller put a different spin on this trimester's student service learning project to help deliver clean water to third world countries.

This time, kids in her sixth- and seventh-grade world cultures classes walked a half-mile near the school while balancing jugs filled with one gallon of water on their heads. That's at least how far people in some other countries have to walk to get water, much of which is polluted. Some walk five to 10 miles a day, students learned.

“Half way through the (school's) walk, it wasn't fun anymore. Students said, 'do I really have to keep this on my head?'” Miller said.

They donated their allowances

In the first trimester of the school year, Miller's world cultures classes raised $780 to send to Nothing But Nets. The charitable organization sends funds to Africa for the purchase of nets to help stop the spread of malaria among children.

Last trimester, her students raised more than $550 to purchase a cow and some chickens as part of the Heifer International project.

Sixth-grader Taylor Bickman was one of a few students at Westwood who beaded bracelets and sold them for 25 cents a piece and then donated the money.

“I learned it's not just about us,” she said. “It's about other people and we need to help them if we want to get help.”

This trimester the funds will go to Water for Life, Life Outreach International out of El Paso, Texas.

The money will go toward building a well, possibly in Africa or Haiti, places that don't have access to clean water. Costs to build a well are about $4,800, according to Miller.

“I was impressed with how much they cared… just their ability to be empathetic,” Miller said about her students.

In introducing the unit, Miller showed a video of a boy gathering water from a polluted river, while a warthog was urinating just upstream.

Miller's classes didn't go the fund-raiser route this trimester. Rather they pooled their own money, went door to door in their neighborhoods or asked their parents to donate.

Others did chores and donated their allowances to the cause. Some industrious students beaded bracelets and sold them at school.

Taylor Bickman, a sixth-grader, was one of the girls who made bracelets, which she sold for 25 cents a pop.

Taylor was surprised to learn that some people in other countries have no choice but to drink water littered with garbage and dirt.

“I learned it's not just about us,” she said. “It's about other people and we need to help them if we want to get help,” she said.

Miller was amazed at how much money the students donated. She also breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the fund drive.

At the start of the campaign, she had nonchalantly promised her students she would dye her hair blue if they reached a goal of $1,200. She thought she was treading on safe ground because they weren't holding a fund-raiser as they had in the past. Her thinking was that they wouldn't raise as much money.

But kids have a way of rallying.

They collected money from May 1 through May 25. The first day of the campaign, her four classes of 150 students, brought in $175. “We came close,” Miller said about nearly having to fulfill her promise of blue hair.

As for the kids carrying water jugs on their heads, many were unable to do so. The load became too cumbersome.

“This hurts,” some said. A few dropped the bottles and water spilled out. Miller reminded them of people who would have had to walk back miles to the river to refill their jugs had their water spilled.

Some students had a go at balancing a five-gallon jug of water on their heads. They soon found it too difficult and painful a task, but a task others do daily in underdeveloped countries.

Looking ahead, Miller plans to do student service projects in her world cultures classes next year. She'll, most likely, stay with the clean water effort, she said.

“The students learn how privileged they are to live in the United States. The value of a drinking fountain,” Miller said.

‘Read to Feed’ at Santa Clarita Libraries

CITY OF SANTA CLARITA | FRIDAY, — Families across Santa Clarita are casting votes for beehives, goats and chickens as part of a program called Read to Feed by Heifer International. The Read to Feed program in a nationwide campaign that allows children an opportunity to connect their reading achievement with making a contribution that addresses worldwide food and economic independence needs.

“The Read to Feed campaign is something our young readers and families are really connecting with,” said Mayor Frank Ferry. “Our ballot boxes are filling up with votes for bees, chickens, and goats, and it's exciting to see so many of our youth excited about reading and helping others.”

At their weekly library visit, each participant will put a card in the vote-box for beehives, a goat, or a flock of chicks. At the end of the Summer Reading Program, the donated funds will be sent to Heifer International in the proportions reflecting the reading participants' votes. Heifer International then uses the money to help families build sustainable lives and become self-reliant.

Generous local donors have already contributed to the Santa Clarita Public Library Read to Feed Project, but additional funds are needed to make the program even more successful. Businesses and citizens interested in donating are encouraged to inquire with their local library branch.

Heifer International, a sustainable agricultural organization, has raised funds and provided on–site training for people in 50 countries for 65 years.

The Read to Feed program encourages reading skills, while teaching students how they can empower families around the world with the gift of livestock, heightening awareness that their actions are making a difference in the lives of others. For more information about the Santa Clarita Public Library's Read to Feed campaign, call Kelly Behle, youth service coordinator, at 661-259-8333.

Chicago Kindergarten Teacher Raises over $1,000 with Read to Feed

Timothy Reilly's students raised over $1,000 with Read to Feed. “Again, my kids LOVED participating in this and I am positive this made a huge impact on them, especially after hearing stories that the parents are telling me. Apparently, they are discussing sustainability, poverty and action at home. I am deeply moved by my students' commitment to Read to Feed. A bakery in the neighborhood heard of what my class was doing, and I just found out that they are sending us a cake tomorrow to congratulate them. This was truly a special program and I look forward to taking part in this next year.”

Fourth Graders are Insipired by Read to Feed

Woodland Elementary School/Purdue Partnership Fourth-graders Emma Farrand and Rhonda Smith said they were surprised to hear the stories of some of the families that have been helped through the program such as the story of a student who had to wake up early to walk four hours to school each day or of areas where the unemployment rate reaches upward of 90 percent. “It really ties nicely into service learning,” said Principal Bruce Hull. “The kids are helping perform a service by learning.”

Purdue Senior Experiences the Benefits of Read to Feed

Meghan Costello, a Purdue senior and part of Heifer International's Purdue chapter, said the pilot was a success and hopes to see the program expand not only within Woodland but to other schools. “This program has so many wins,” said Costello. “The kids keep reading, they get to learn about global health and Heifer International gets to benefit kids overseas that are going to profit from the animals they're sending." Fourth-grader Alma Rodriguez said she read 20 books this summer. For her, helping families in other countries was a bonus. “I feel really proud,” Alma said with a smile.