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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Sacred Heart School Assistant Principal Holly Wilson pours slime over Principal Gary Manning at an assembly Thursday morning in the school’s gymnasium. For the second year in a row, Wilson won the “Penny War” for the school’s Christmas Service Project donated to Heifer International. When Manning lost last year, he had to kiss a goat. Please click the title of the story to read more!
Chloe J - Greenville, SC
Ms. Armstrong's Class | Garfield Elementary | Lewistown, MT
Our 7 year old wanted to buy a water buffalo as part of her Christmas gift. We offered to match her 50% and she worked hard taking care of neighbor's dogs, extra chores around the house, and saving any money she received as a gift for several months leading up to Christmas. She met her goal!
As I get older, I have started to realize that it doesn't take great acts to change the world, it takes each day looking at each moment and wondering.... "What could I do right now that would make a difference in the world around me?" So, on my granddaughter's first birthday, I thought, hmm... she's over 1100 miles away from me, but I feel just a bit inspired to do something that will make a difference today. I received a notification that Heifer was partnering with the Little Rock Marathon and they were looking for people to sign up and commit to raising funds for Heifer. I don't run - no really - If you see me running, something is chasing me... for real. But I thought, well why not give it a try. People may donate money to Heifer, just to see my updates and laugh at the grandma who finally decided to MOOVE! ... Please click the title of the story to read more!
I signed up for Team Heifer to inspire me to take on a bigger challenge than any I had done before. I have a group of friends that I have trained with in the past, and they were encouraging me to try a full Ironman race, but I just didn’t have the motivation. I felt that if I was going to put in that much work, time, and money, I would need something even more powerful than just a finish line to keep me going on cold, rainy, or windy days. I challenged my friends to donate the equivalent of the cost of the race to Heifer as a way for me to know that this race would mean more – I wouldn’t have to feel guilty that I was spending so much on a race when other people are struggling just to survive AND I would know that people were counting on me finishing which creates accountability when I just want to sleep in... Please click the title of the story to read more!
For Kimberly Ewing’s third grade class at Deer Creek School, the holidays aren’t just about receiving gifts. The students focused their holiday season efforts on giving, earning $1,200 in donations for Heifer International. Heifer will send a representative to give the students a certificate of recognition at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 3.
The 7th graders at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury, MA have found a great way to integrate learning about Heifer’s work into their studies. After visiting Heifer Farm Learning Center and learning how Heifer helps families to rise above hunger and poverty, Ella and Hannah and their classmates completed cross-subject learning projects in Social Studies, Science, Math and English Language Arts to deepen their understanding of poverty and to hone their academic skills. Please click the title of this story to read more!
I received a catalog for Heifer Int'l in the mail in November. I am a beekeeper in Spring, Texas with a small business selling honey, body butter, lip balm and handmade soap. When I saw the Honduras Honey Bee project I knew it would be a perfect way for my small business to give back. Customers liked it as well and it was great to highlight Heifer Int'l. I was able to give $166 (10% of sales). I hope I can do it again next year! - Just Bee Well
Mr. Agler, from Rossford United Methodist Church in Rossford, Ohio, has collected over one million pennies in support of Heifer International! Please click the title of this story to read the full article!
Hello! My name is Anna Finkenauer and I am a teacher in Denver, CO. My second grade class has been studying what it means to be a good citizen so we decided to do a service project together. We looked at many different charity organizations and decided on Heifer International because of your mission to empower people in need. We loved to idea of raising money to buy an animal, the students had a blast looking at all the different animals and learning about them. We decided to host a hot chocolate stand after school to raise money. The class came together to create a plan, gather supplies and advertise for it. It was an awesome way for our class to bond and we ended up raising $700! Seeing our whole school come to support our stand was amazing, and many students have found a new passion for community service after this experience. We voted on what animals to buy and decided on a Heifer, a flock of chicks, a goat and two honeybee hives. Thank you for everything your amazing organization does, we are so excited to continue to raise money for Heifer International throughout the year!
I am happy to report that my first grade class raised $475 for our Read to Feed Christmas outreach project and read nearly 300 books in 3 weeks. My big-hearted children did this in lieu of exchanging gifts with each other and some gave that money toward the program. Through their efforts, we were able to purchase 3 llamas which will provide annual income for 3 or more needy families in other countries. We learned about the various resources/animals available for purchase through Heifer throughout this process and about some of the children who have benefited from it across the globe. My class has been doing this for 6 years and loving it every year!