If you asked Zoe Prekop about herself, she would say she is a junior from Chicago that loves traveling, exploring new places and even cliff jumping! But in addition to being a fun-loving teen open to new ideas and experiences, Zoe has been a huge advocate for ending hunger and poverty and organizing support for Heifer International.
As a member of the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church--a congregation of about 60 people--she has been doing Living Gift Markets in her community since she was 9-years old. Over the years, Zoe has raised approximately $7,000 and says she plans to continue doing this popular fundraiser as long as she can. Zoe recently spoke with Beth Gunzel, Community Engagement Coordinator for Heifer in Chicago, to share her story.
Beth: What inspired you to get involved in hunger and poverty issues?
Zoe: My family has always been one to give back to the community in one way or another, so I grew up with not only an expectation, but wanting to help those in need. When I was nine years old, back in 2005, I saw a Heifer magazine [World Ark] in my grandparents’ house. I looked through the whole magazine and loved the idea of a sustainable donation. I’ve been working in LPPCs homeless shelter for many years and I find myself attracted to helping the homeless and hungry, which is probably why I was so drawn to Heifer.
Beth: How do you get church members to support your Living Gift Market?
Zoe: I sell Heifer [animals] during LPPCs Alternative Christmas Fair where there are multiple people from different organizations selling a variety of merchandise. Everyone is so supportive and they realize that even though they don’t walk off with a physical gift, what they bought is more important than anything they could have gotten wrapped from a store.
Beth: Are there any particular countries that Heifer works in that you are most interested in?
Zoe: As of now the Goats Give Back project in Nepal seems very exciting! Most of the time I don’t have a specific country that I want to send to, it’s always been about helping as many people as I can. One day I hope I can travel to all these different places and participate in person.
Beth: What three tips would you give on having a successful Living Gift Market?
Zoe: I would say that make sure you have enough information about what you’re selling and why it’s important. Having an honor card as proof of purchase never hurts, and lastly you need to be passionate about what you’re doing because people will feel that energy and it will not only get you excited about their purchase, it will get them excited too.
Beth: What words of encouragement can you provide for other teens considering doing a Living Gift Market?
Zoe: Never give up or get discouraged about not selling tons of stuff. In my very first year I sold around $80 in chickens and geese. It didn’t seem like I was doing anything, but then I realized that even if I’m only helping four people, that’s four more people that won’t go to sleep hungry for years to come. Do what you can and know that every bit helps.
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H. Frank Carey High School held a small presentation at which students were awarded with a $1,000 donation to Heifer International... Click the link to read the rest of the story!
Dear Heifer International, I am the first grade teacher at St. Bridget School in Manchester, CT. The past few years, I have done the Read to Feed service project with my class. I am writing you this letter because this enclosed gift of $60, raised specifically for three flocks of chicks to help bring some families out of poverty, is very special... Please click the link below to read more...
Big City Mom, Rebecca, throws her 3-year-old daughter a birthday party and asks guests to bring donations to Heifer International! Please click the link below to read her blog post from Big City Moms...
The children at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hill, CA sent a letter and pictures expressing their excitement for purchasing a cow for a family in need. Click the link below to read their letter!
8th Grader in Boulder, CO hosts a concert for Heifer
Orange, pink, yellow, blue and more covered the Foxcroft campus on Friday during the Class of 2017’s Junior Class Walkathon. Following the previous year’s theme of a color run, students and faculty enjoyed the warm weather and sunny day to raise money for a great cause--Heifer International. Click on the title of this story to read more!
My Grandma introduced me to Heifer International when I was 5 or 6 years old. It was near Christmas and she got a magazine, thought it was junk mail and was looking through it. She started reading about Heifer. Then I came over and she asked me, "Do you want to give a trio of rabbits to a family somewhere in the world?" I said, "Sure" and she told me all about Heifer. Now I am 10 years old and I have been giving to Heifer for a long time. I just love Heifer and it is an organization that helps poor people. I wanted my 4th grade class to know about Heifer and how they can help families. I talked with a teacher at my school and asked for help. We worked on a presentation to share with the 4th graders teaching them about Heifer. Then I made a flyer to go home with all the 4th graders. Then they had 2 weeks to donate money to Heifer. After the 2 weeks I counted all the money and we came out with $150.13. I want to buy an irrigation pump because I know water is very important. You can make food with it and you can drink it. I hope my donation impacts the world! Submitted by Elizabeth S.
Dear Heifer International, This entire idea started about two months ago when I saw the catalog lying on our center island. I paged through it and saw all of these people that needed food and income. Then it hit me, it would be a great idea to try to get my family to support me in this project. When the first email came I went crazy. My grandma had just given $50! Then the emails were coming in like crazy. I was getting donations almost once a minute. So then a month later we decided to get a Hope Basket, Clean Water for One Village, and a flock of chickens. Enclosed is $225. Keep the extra $5. Thanks, Nico S.
Hi! My name is Hannah and I am 8-years old. I raised money by making bracelets and instead of Christmas presents, I asked for money. So please buy a goat and (a flock of) chicken(s) with the money I raised! Happy Valentine's Day! Hannah PS: I hope I make a family happy.
Family donates water buffalo as holiday gift... Click the title of this story to read more!
Please accept this donation not just from me, but as a gift from North Park Elementary School. Let me explain how this came about. When I received the Heifer International (gift) catalog at my home, I decided to see if my principal would approve it as a class fundraiser. Needless to say, she did, so the class fundraiser grew into a school-wide fundraiser! All we asked for were donations of loose change and we call our fundraiser, "Change to Change the World." (Along with an introductory letter we wrote to help students, families and teachers learn more about your orgainzation and mission) some teachers also read Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier, which contains an afterward by Hillary Clinton that mentions Heifer International. In the end we collected $229.76 in loose change as well as $89 in bills. The students were so proud to see the level of generosity found within our school community! So, on behalf of the North Park Elementary community, please accept our donation and use it in any way that will support the communities in need most. Thank you for what you are doing!
It is with great pleasure that we have enclosed a check for $5,000 to give an Ark through Heifer International. Our small, rural congregation initially established this goal 2 1/2 years ago. We have been steadily working toward it using various fundraising efforts. It has truly been a group effort in that money was received from our Sunday School children, our youth group, our women's fellowship, Sunday mission offerings and individual donations. We support in the work of Heifer, especially the idea of Passing on the Gift. We are excited at the prospect of our gift multiplying to provide sustainability, self-reliance and hope to people around the globe. We are blessed and grateful to be able to share this gift. Thank you for the opportunity to reach far beyond our small town to give assistance to those who need it most.