Celebrating Passing on the Gift® at Concepción de María: In early October 2013, the small village of Concepción de María, nestled in the mountain crevices of Honduras, bustled with activity. More than 60 families were gathered at the corner of the local soccer field to celebrate another round of Passing on the Gift®. The crew gathered included leaders of the local community, Heifer partners and staff, and joyous family members ready to pass on gifts of calves and chickens. With the lime green mountains acting as the backdrop and silent witness, one-by-one, families took center stage and passed on the same kinds of gifts they had received two years before.
Local resident and Heifer farmer Bartolo Zepeda chatted about the young calf he was going to gift to María Isaura Hernández, a single mother who lives in his community. His message to her: “I have cared well for this calf and I hope you will do likewise. I am happy to be passing on my gift to a single mother.” To sweeten the deal, Bartolo added a pound of treated salt and grass seedlings to plant and grow fodder to feed the calf. He even offered María a small plot of land for growing the grass.
On that joyful day, 17 families received calves and 21 families brought home chickens. Some had walked from distant communities, and their excitement could be felt in the air. “We had never received something like this, not ever,” Bartolo said. “My family’s life has changed since we were passed our gift. My daughter will grow up well nourished. I milk the cow daily so she has fresh milk each day. My family’s budget improved as well, because my wife began making cuajada, or cottage cheese, and selling it. That brings in more money each month that we didn’t have before.”
While Bartolo passed María her gift of a calf, Olga Marina Alvarez passed a calf to Fredyvinda Castillo, Lucrecio Munguía passed a calf to Jacoba Zepeda, Norma Lopez passed a calf to Servín Sánchez, and on and on and on. These families are all part of the Project Planting Seeds of Hope project through Heifer Honduras. It was truly a happy occasion for both the recipients and those who were Passing on the Gift. As is tradition in the small towns of Honduras, a group of teenage boys and girls from the town’s high school danced to folk music. Dressed in colorful, native costumes, they were the highlight of the event.
Heifer has been working in Honduras for 35 years. Since 1978, it has empowered more than 6,000 rural families in poor, isolated communities to improve their livelihoods. Heifer projects in Honduras work to diversify agricultural production, promote the use of better farming practices, strengthen grassroots organizations and foster gender equity.
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April 1, 2015 Dear Heifer International, We were so inspired by the story Beatrice's Goat in our third grade reading series that we decided we wanted to raise money to purchase a goat for a family in need like Beatrice's. We realized that we take so much for granted and often don't have to work for any of the things we have. Each student in our class did jobs for our parents and other family members and friends to raise money. Please take this check and make sure a goat goes to a family whose life will be changed. Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts. Sincerely, Mrs. Smith's 3rd Grade Class Lincoln Park Elementary School
...when I visited in February, they already knew so much about Heifer and our mission to end hunger and poverty. March was their month for Read to Feed! We celebrated April 16.
My co-teacher, Deborah Goldstein, and I have done this specific project for 2 years now during the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah period. We give the children a list of animals that we think will be within budget and let them vote on their first and second choice animals to purchase...
At the beginning of April Heifer International's Public Relations Manager received 12 "letters of gratitude" from students at Yarmouth High School in Maine. Not wanting them to go unnoticed, she passed them along to When Cows Fly. Reading through each letter, we were compelled to learn more about the project. Here are some excerpts from the letters we received...
My name is Bat-Ella Pessah and I am 12-years old. Since I was a little girl I have had food allergies, so I wanted to help other kids who also have allergies to be able to make some good food...
We first heard about Heifer International in middle school, but it wasn't until our senior year of high school we researched this organization more. We wanted to share our story to show that ANYONE can make a difference!
As part of Heifer International's kid-friendly honor card competition, we received Bailey's beautiful drawing. Thank you, Bailey!
West Virginia student, Austin, sent us this beautiful, serene drawing of a world without hunger. Thank you, Austin!
Emma, a student in West Virginia, graciously shared this drawing with Heifer International as a part of our kid-friendly honor card contest. Thank you, Emma!
Heifer International would like to thank Duke, an elementary school student in West Virginia, for sharing his hope for a world without hunger!
It was an incredible thing to watch my students (6-7 years old) eagerly doing jobs at home to earn money for the cause. I had one child who even gave up his tooth money that he was going to use to buy himself a toy...
Our class of first, second and third graders, called the Acacia Class, has earned $182.00 from a special bake sale. We were selling baked goods and were selling for four days...
What fun we had in Sunday School raising money for 3 Little Pigs for Heifer International during Lent this year! We are a small church, so our goal was to raise money for one pig but our colorful piggy banks inspired many givers. Each Sunday School student painted a small piggy bank and we lined them up under a bulletin board display featuring pigs colored by children of all ages. Even visitors were moved to give! Thank you for this opportunity, Heifer International!
Today's my 40th birthday and I've been raising money for your organization through a Pay It Forward site. I just realized it would be cool for you to know! My goal is $1,000 to be split between you and a local cat rescue organization. I'm 27% there and am hoping more people donate before Saturday.
In July of 2014, the Presbyterian Women of First Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, FL put together their time and effort to raise funds for Heifer International. The first paragraph of their initial fundraiser flier used to call congregants to give reads: "Presbyterian Women of First Presbyterian Church are committed to helping others by extending a hand up rather than a handout. Their goal is to collect $5,000 to fill an ark for Heifer International in the month of July."
This idyllic drawing was sent to us by Marshall, a young Pennsylvanian Heifer supporter. We thank you for sharing your artistry with Heifer, Marshall!
When Cows Fly: Early in 1976 I learned about Heifer International and thought it sounded like an outstanding organization. To become involved, I decided to produce an afternoon musical. Along with other volunteer musicians, we presented our "Goat Concert" in May of that year. We raised $160--enough to send two goats! I am very fortunate in having abundance to share and am still able to support Heifer by donating a goat and some chicks each year. Thank you for helping me do that. Sincerely, Carol King PS: Enclosed is a photo of me singing in our "Goat Concert" in 1976.)
I first heard about Heifer in the late 90's when I had graduated from Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine and was practicing as a mixed-animal veterinarian in central Pennsylvania. (I am originally from Selma, Alabama.) One day as I was traveling my route doing my scheduled herd checks, checking cows for pregnancy, I noticed that farm after farm had missing farmers. This really was strange because my farmers hardly ever went on vacation. I finally asked where everyone was and was told that they had accompanied a shipment of heifers overseas for a group called Heifer International...
Olivia Demberg, a young Heifer International supporter, recently sent the following letter to Heifer CEO Pierre Ferrari detailing a project proposal that she pitched to ShurTech Brands CEO. Click on the story title to learn more about Olivia's unique and inspiring initiative...
Our students were very honored that they were able to donate money to help others through Heifer International. The boys and girls competed against each other to see who could raise the most money and then we combined it and had the Consumer Math Class find out all the different ways we could spend the funds. The students enjoyed themselves and were pleasantly surprised when they got the box of pencils and pins. It was a very kind gesture and the students still continue to brag about how wonderful they think the pencils are. Enclosed is a group picture of the students who donated. Thank you again. Melissa King, OCA Teacher
Dear Heifer International, Thank you for all you do. It is amazing how your charity helps so many people in the world. I always send my tzadaka to you. Sincerely, Jasmyn
"My 9-year old daughter, Anabeth, was inspired by a story she read in school where a young girl's family received a goat. That family sold the goat's milk and it allowed the young girl to attend school. After reading the story, Anabeth came home and found Heifer International. She browsed through the pages until she decided that she wanted to raise $500 on her own to buy a heifer. She took all of her birthday money, scrounged up all the change in the house, called family and friends, asked church members and even spent a Sunday selling lemonade and tea to raise the $500 she needed in less than two weeks! Donations came pouring in when people heard about what she was doing. Today, we were able to purchase the heifer for her. We are so proud of her and the impact she has made on our community." After checking in with Anabeth's mom, she replied with an incredible update on Friday, March 20, 2015! "Also, since I emailed, I wanted to let you know that she has officially earned an excess of $150 above her goal! Now that she has purchased her heifer, she is going to purchase a goat and some chicks after school today. She is very excited. She has also inspired at least three other kids in her class who are saving for water buffaloes and heifers as we speak."
At the beginning of March 2015, Heifer International received a flier from Kate Prominski and Betsy Svanda, 7th grade Social Studies teachers in Michigan. The adorable flier detailed a fundraiser that they hosted with their students. It reads: "The Lakewood 7th grade Social Studies class has been studying Africa and feel compelled to raise funds for the Heifer Project. Heifer International is a global non-profit with the goal of ending poverty and hunger in a sustainable fashion. Our goal is to raise $620, which will buy two water buffalos ($500) and a pig ($120). The coins will be collected until Friday, February 13th!" After reaching out to Kate, we discovered that this wasn't the first time they had hosted this fundraiser. She shared that the Coins for Cows fundraiser is an annual event for the 7th grade Social Studies teachers. A few years ago their students were so enthusiastic that they were able to raise over $1,000! Kate went on to say: "Betsy and I put together a funny video of us finding change in different places in order to encourage the kids to donate. We kept a daily total and challenged the students each day by showing them an inspirational video found on YouTube from Heifer. Every student who donated was able to sign our 'Heifer' poster. By the end of the fundraiser, our poster was filled with almost a hundred names of students who made this fundraiser a success. We are proud to say our students exceeded our goal and raised over $624." Kate ended her email thanking Heifer for all that we do, but truly, from the bottoms of our hearts, we want to thank those 7th grade Social Studies students for so enthusiastically supporting Heifer's mission!
Dear Heifer International, We are a class at a school in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Every month we sell coffee and cookies at a cafe we have named the Wildcat Cafe. We use the money we make to go on field trips, buy things for our classroom and for special projects. This month we decided to donate part of the money we made to your organization. Our class voted and decided to buy a hive of honeybees for someone in need. We are happy to see the money we earned put to good use. Sincerely, Ms. Steinke, Ms. Rodeman, Mrs. Welch, Mrs. Surtees, Ellen, Melissa, Desmon, Brendan, Brandon and Abbe
I'm happy to enclose a check for $200 raised by our first grade students through a cookie sale and family donations! Our students were very enthusiastic in the roles they played to help purchase animals for needy families. Their awareness of the needs of others was heightened and the realization that children can make a difference in our big world was made clear. I've included a picture of three of our students with our learning fair display. Thank you for your assistance with our project! Sincerely, Mary Smith