The Giving Season

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministery

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! To tell you the story that you've already heard a million times !

When I was in 7th grade, my Sunday School teacher Susan Rex (wife of our very own Sandy Rex) came into our room all excited and showed us a short movie describing an organization called Heifer Project International (now just Heifer International). We learned that HPI is a non-profit charity dedicated to empowering communities worldwide and trying to address the problems of global hunger, while respecting the communities' natural rhythms, cultures and traditions. For HPI, this means not donating money or food, but livestock (animals) and seeds, workshops and classes. A family in need, in Cambodia, Ukraine, Rwanda, Peru or Vietnam, receives a living animal that can benefit for the rest of its life: a goat, a cow, a chicken, fish, a guinea pig (feel free to ask certain members of our Junior High how a family can use a guinea pig to feed their family for years!) And then comes the really beautiful part, a cornerstone of Heifer Project that they call "Passing on the Gift." That family must give the first offspring of their animal to another member of the community in need. And that family must do the same. And so on, until the entire community has benefited from one animal. In the meantime, HPI provides workshops on how to care for that animal in the most energy-efficient, cost-effective way, so that taking care of the animal provides further income instead of sapping it.

When I became involved with Heifer Project in grade school, I was only just becoming aware of my responsibility to my community and family, let alone to the world. But raising money with my Sunday School for HPI sent that impulse into overdrive. I suddenly cared immensely about getting a member of my church to "buy" a sheep, because I could see directly how it would affect some 13-year-old just like me. And when my Junior High class received a beautiful painted plaque from HPI congratulating us on raising enough money for 2 of every animal available to be sent somewhere in the world, I cried and cried. Probably from a mixture of pride, but also from an increasingly overwhelming sense that there was so much more I could do as a member of the human race.
SO: In the next few weeks, look for members of our Rite 13 class (7th and 8th graders) making announcements about HPI and setting up tables for you to buy an animal for HPI. You'll have a plethora of choices! Tell a kid what you want to spend and they'll help set you up with an appropriate donation! And then they can tell you where your animal is going and how it will help the community! And we'll ring a cowbell every time someone buys a cow! HERE COME THE HOLIDAYS - GET READY TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT GIVING.