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.
The end of hunger isn’t a fairy tale
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While viewing a DVD on missions, our Sunday School class of 5- to 9-year olds wanted to find a way to help the world. Since they all love animals and since they knew this gift could continue to grow, they decided on Heifer International. In our small church, it became affectionately called the Feed the Pig project! Click the title of this story to read more!
Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah is significant, and Heifer International wants to be a part of your celebration. Join us at the Mitzvah Project Fair in Tarrytown, NY, on Sunday, November 22 or check out www.heifer.org/faith for A Guide for Choosing Heifer International as Your Mitzvah Project.
For four generations, Courtney Tanner-Bellows' family has donated to Heifer International. Recently Courtney, her sister Tiffany, and Tiffany's daughters decided that they wanted to donate a water buffalo to carry on the tradition. It took them a couple of years to raise the money, but they were able to raise enough to give a water buffalo, an irrigation pump, a flock of ducks and geese, a flock of chicks and a share of a pig! What makes this story extra special is that the Tanner-Bellows family own Creamery Brook Bison Farm!!
First published on his personal blog, David, a young Heifer supporter, wrote about his experience at Heifer Farm in Rutland, MA for a school field trip. Click the title of this story to read his story!
Our students were so touched by the book Beatrice's Goat and the videos that they far exceeded our expectations! Even though our school is 98% free and reduced lunch, our students worked very hard to raise money to purchase three goats and three flocks of chickens rather than the one goat we had planned to purchase. Click the title of this story to read more!
World hunger is a huge problem! That's the first conclusion that the fourth and fifth grade students at Windy Ridge K-8, in a class called "Feeding the World," came to. The second conclusion was that it isn't an easy problem to solve either. Click the title of this story to read more!
June 19, 2015 Dear Friends at Heifer International, Enclosed is a donation of $240.00 for 2 pigs! For the fourteenth year we have asked our students and staff to read 200,000 minutes for our "Read to Feed" program. Upon reaching this goal, our PTA donated the funds for the pig purchase. Our students again surpassed this goal by reading 251,894 minutes. We are very proud of them. In the photo is the wall where we tracked our progress. Sincerely yours, Joan Mommsen & Gail Leslie Belle Aire School LRC
Dear Heifer International, Our class earned $120, enough to buy a goat for a family in need! We earned this money by being respectful listeners, good participators, cooperative classmates and by donating money we earned at home. We hope that our gift will bring "light" to the family who receives a goat and that they will bring their "light" to other families. Collin, Conner, Brandon, Adrian, Anthony, Charley, Elizabeth, Gianna, Matt, Jordan, Tammy, Alex, Madison and Judy Michalek (teacher)
Our club spent the whole year raising money for Heifer. We raised money through many activities, including: hosting a tailgate at a University of Missouri football game, collecting spare change at our school, organizing a Read-to-Feed partnership with a local elementary school. Click the title of this story to learn more!
Heifer receives thank you mail from our donors all the time. In this particular instance, we wanted to thank the students that attend University Presbyterian Church for their very generous donation!
Join Ted & Company at one of the 3 performances of 12 Baskets and a Goat!
Enclosed is over $6,000 that my school, River Crest Elementary, in Hudson, WI, raised for Heifer Project through the Read to Feed Program. This is the second time we have done Read to Feed, having raised $9,000 in our first effort two years ago. This year, we completed a month-long program of reading, educating ourselves about Heifer Project, and learning about the global issue of poverty and the inequitable distribution of world resources. Our 480 students raised this total. Click the title of this story to read more!
Deep River UCC of Deep River, CT raise $5,000 over 18-months! Congratulations Deep River UCC Sunday School! Click the title of this story to read more.
We are a Sunday School class of elementary kids at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, MO. We recently (finally!) saved $60 for rabbits. Enclosed is a photo of us and another of Carter demonstrating how we deposit our coins. Our bank has a lid that adds the total amount in the bank. We love to see those dollars and cents add up, so it inspires us to bring money as depositing it is fun. We also feel good about helping the cause. We are now saving for a flock of chicks. That should be easier--a third of $60! Sincerely, Janet Trotter, teacher
A very creative donor sent her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren a ballot of possible animal donations for them to vote on. Click on the title of this story to read more!
Dear Heifer International, We are a small school of approximately 220 students in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We have been learning about the work you do for people who need assistance all over the world. We have been inspired by your work and we wanted to raise money to help in your worthy cause. We read books, created artwork and had an art auction on art night. We know it's not thousands of dollars, but we are proud of what we collected. We know you will put it to good use! Thank you for everything that you do! Love, Mrs. Myers and the students of Sylvan Heights Science Charter School
Dear Heifer International, We really enjoyed using "Animal Crackers" last year to learn about animals and how they help people. We learned that all God has created and was created for a reason and we should do our part to take care of it and help take care of others, too! We raised $783.00 at our Christ's Kids Carnival for Heifer International. We made a poster at the carnival but it was too big to send, so we are sending you a picture of it. Thank you for all you do to teach and provide for others around the world. Peace & Love, Christ's Kids at 1st UMC Crane, TX
We own a business called Crafter's Closet. For about two years, we have been selling our knitted and crocheted goods to raise funds for clean water. Click the title of this story to read more!
I am in 5th grade and go to school at New Hope Christian Academy. We participated in the Global Gateway Experience. I thought it was incredible! When we arrived, we played a few games, but lunch was very important. Not everyone got enough food, but I did. Click the title of this story to read more!