Eli, a 7-year-old from upstate New York, worked with his family to raise enough money from friends, neighbors and members of his church to buy an Ark from the Heifer Catalog.
Eli’s family has supported Heifer for decades, giving gifts like flocks of chicks and shares of cows. Eli wanted to make an even bigger gift: an Ark to change the world two by two.
An Ark of Heifer animals delivers more than $5,000 worth of impact — 2 water buffalo, 2 cows, 2 sheep and 2 goats. Plus bees, chicks, garden seeds and all the training a family needs to turn their animals' byproducts into income, opportunity and hope.
Eli had a business proposition: his family would make ornaments and sell them at church to raise money for the Ark. Eli gave a speech to the congregation, and many supported his effort.
"We got home and counted as fast as we could. Eli says, 'I bet we have over $1,000!' I told him to hold his horses, but — that’s what we had," his mom Katherine recalled.
Eli and his family continued to raise money. "Then my boss reminded me our company matched contributions, and suddenly the Ark was in reach," Katherine said.
With the help of her company’s employer matching gift program, which matches gifts to nonprofits dollar-for-dollar, they met Eli’s $5,000 goal for an Ark.
"I kept Eli in the dark until Christmas, when I wrapped the Ark certificate and put it under the tree. He opened it with a huge smile and said, 'This is the best Christmas present ever.' It was for me, too. Eli did something at age 7 that I could never do. I’m so proud of him."
A little hope and a big heart can work miracles. Eli's Ark is at work today, helping families all over the world lift themselves from poverty.