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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"Watching [Cindy] in this moment was the link between putting a check into an envelope and seeing how every donation matters." -Meredith Walker
I cried on the plane because, despite so much that is wrong with our world, the desire to help one another burns in enough hearts to be a powerful force. People are living up to their duty of helping others and it is changing the world. I feel honored to be just one small part of that change.Jane Maynard
Priorities. They are sometimes easy to figure out, but many times they give us choices that seem to compete for what we would consider best. They become difficult for us personally, and feel even more difficult for us as a community, or a nation, or if we look far enough, they make the whole world a place to fight over priorities. Tough choices seem to just keep coming.
As Luiza was talking with us about her cows and her life she said, “You came and held our hands to bring us where we are.” At the conclusion of that sentence, Luiza and her neighbors began to cheer and yell with joy.
Our Golden Rule Sunday School has been supporting Heifer International for several years. Social action projects are a big part of our program, and we try to combine local and international projects, including volunteering at a nearby forest preserve, collecting books for children that have no books in their home, making lunches for a homeless shelter, and an ongoing change jar to collect for Heifer International. Click the title of this story to read more...
We raised this money with our 4-H group by making a lemonade stand that supports "Chickens for Change." We are donating all of the profits from our lemonade stand to Heifer International. Click the title of this story to read more...
My name is Shiloh. I live in Durham, NC and I just turned 10-years old. I know I am so lucky to live in a family that is able to take care of me, but I know a lot of people can't take care of their families so I asked my friends to donate money to Heifer International for my 10th birthday party instead of giving me presents. I was HOPING to receive enough to buy a goat for a family and I DID!! I am so excited that a family will now have milk and cheese for themselves and to sell for profit!! Yay!! A goat!!! I hope the goat and the family will be very happy!! Love, Shiloh
I am happy to announce that after two weeks of hard work, our students from Preschool through 8th grade have raised $1,417.31 to give to Heifer International. This fundraising was a school-wide service project and we are very proud of the students! Click the title of this story to read more...
We filled the Ark and had a great time doing it! ...As an incentive, the Religious Education staff promised to kiss a pig if the goal was reached. Click on the title of this story to read more...
The Ark became the conversational topic of the community. It offered our members a wonderful opportunity to spread the word of the fantastic work done by Heifer International. Click the title of this story to read more...
I have 30 students from a Title I school where more than 75% of them receive free and reduced lunch. They participated in two swap meets, a bake sale, the Chores for Change fundraiser, collecting cans and bottles and asking for donations in order to collect enough funds to help send a girl to school. Click the title of this story to read more...
Valentina, a kindergarten student in North Carolina, shared, "I like helping people." Thank you, Valentina, for helping Heifer help people!
On Wednesday, the Vacation Bible School at Henderson United Methodist Church in Little Rock received a visit from Heifer Village and learned how a simple animal, such as a goat, can have a great impact on families in need! Click the title of this story to read more...
In 2012 we began a 20k trail run. Hoof It for Heifer is held on the Boy Scouts of America hiking trail in Petit Jean State Park atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton, AR. The popularity of the run among trail runners has increased each year and with that we have been able to increase the amount we give to Heifer. We held our fourth run in April 2015 with 126 runners registered. Click the title of the story to read more...
...I had challenged the children of our congregation (ten children ages 3- to 11-years old) to help raise money to buy one sheep for Heifer. And when I gave them that challenge, one of the older girls said that they would raise enough for two sheep and the rest of the children cheered--they were very enthusiastic! Click the title of this story to read more.
Transitional kindergarten student, Carla, shared, "Heifer helps people!" If you would like to learn more about our mission, please click on the following link: http://www.heifer.org/ending-hunger/index.html.