Are you looking for inspiration for how to volunteer for Heifer International with your church? Need some direction in how to impact the fight to end hunger and poverty even though you may live very far from your closest Heifer representative? Look no further than a church that has been working with Heifer for the past 72 years, and yet still continues to surprise us with their generosity and spirit of compassion.
At the 2016 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, hundreds of people gathered to listen, share and support each other. I represented Heifer International there at a booth and through leading an activity for middle school youth. I was amazed to hear the stories from people who have been supporting Heifer for years, some for longer than I have been alive, even when they had never visited our brick and mortar office or even interacted directly with a Heifer employee. Many do the work on their own, self-directed and motivated to contribute to our mission even if no one sets them specific hours in which to participate. They joyfully support Heifer International now and in the past through creative, endearing and passionate ways. From voluntarily raising and donating the first animals that Heifer gifted around the world in 1944 to the fundraisers and community events of the present, the Church of the Brethren has continuously offered their time, talents and tithes to the mission of Heifer. It’s beautiful to see that their youth community already knows of Heifer’s mission and are passionate to see it through to fruition.
Here are a few of the ways the Church of the Brethren community supports us and are determined to continue doing until our mission is achieved:
- Leading an alternative or Living Gift Market that brings youth and adults together to inspire generosity around the holidays. You can find a guide for this program on our website: http://shop.heifer.org/congregational-resources/living-gift-market-leaders-guide-digital-download.html
- Creating a quarter tube or other bank and asking the children of the church to bring change every week to donate when they come for the children’s time during the service. Simple, but inspirational for children to learn the joy of giving. It may add up slowly, but over the years, some churches have used this method to give multiple arks!
- Leading a Heifer International Sunday School class or Vacation Bible School. We provide resources for these as well at http://shop.heifer.org/congregational-resources.html, and you can also create your own! Even if you do not use the full program, offerings taken during VBS are a great way to work the idea of Heifer International into any program.
- Using our Fill the Ark program during Lent to get families talking about the difficult topic of hunger and poverty at home, and giving sacrificially. http://shop.heifer.org/congregational-resources/fill-the-ark-kit-2015.html
- Host a Heifer booth at your local Farmers’ Market or other event to spread the word to people in your community (see top photo).
- Connect with a local farmer and see if he/she will bring live animals to any event you are hosting. Young and old alike love to see the faces of the animals they are sending around the world!
All of these can be done in any church by anyone that is passionate about Heifer International or the work to end hunger and poverty – even YOU!
Story by Kendra Penry, Heifer International Community Engagement Coordinator