The perfect gift

It is the height of the holiday season...and everyone is rushing around from store to store to find that perfect gift...well, I have the answer right here - and you don't even need to leave your seat...

For a number of years I have supported Heifer International by purchasing a variety of items...
from a hive of bumblebees

to a flock of baby chicks

to a share of a  sheep.

For over 66 years, Heifer has been helping families achieve self-reliance through gifts of animals and training. Their program model proves time and again that a gift of one animal sparks a cycle of hope that changes entire communities.

At their website, you can read about the work they do around the world, preview their holiday catalog, select your gifts and even send an e-card to the recipient.  I love the fact that everything is done online with low administrative cost so the maximum amount of your donation goes to the program (spoken by someone who used to do non-profit fundraising in another life!)

Granted, there are many good causes out there...find the one that touches your heart or reaffirms your beliefs and support it this holiday season and then share that cause with others...because if you want to give a gift that will be memorable, wouldn't a water buffalo top the list...


  1. Heifer International (HI) is an organization that claims to work against world hunger by donating animals to families in developing countries. Its catalog deceptively portrays beautiful children holding cute animals in seemingly humane circumstances. The marketing brochure for HI does not show the animals being transported, their living and slaughter conditions, or the erosion, pollution and water use caused by the introduction of these animals and their offspring.

    By definition, animals raised for food are exploited in a variety of ways. The animals shipped to developing countries are often subject to; water and food shortages, cruel procedures without painkillers, lack of veterinary care resulting in extended suffering as a result of illness or injury.

    A large percentage of the families receiving animals from HI are struggling to provide for themselves and cannot ensure adequate living conditions, nutrition, and medical care for animals they have been given. HI provides some initial veterinary training to individuals and the initial vaccines. But, long term care for these animals and their offspring is up to the individuals.

    To make matters worse, animal agriculture causes much more harm to the environment than plant-based agriculture. The fragile land in many of the regions HI is sending the animals cannot support animal agriculture. Although they say they encourage cut and carry feeding of the animals to avoid erosion, the reality is often quite different.

    The consumption of animal products has been shown in reputable studies to contribute significantly to life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Regions that have adopted a diet with more animal products see an increase in these diseases. The remote communities supposedly served by HI have no way of dealing with the health consequences of joining the high-cholesterol world.

    While it may seem humane and sustainable to provide just one or two dairy cows here or there, the long term consequences are an increased desire for animal products in local cultures leading to an increase in production. These communities may be able to absorb the additional water use of one or two cows, what happens when there are hundreds or thousands of dairy cows, each consuming 27 to 50 gallons of fresh water and producing tons of excrement? The heavy cost to animals, the environment and local economies is not figured into HI's business practices.

  2. vegaia - you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I likewise have researched HI and know that they have received the highest rating from Charity Navigator.
    I hope that you will find an organization that reaffirms your beliefs and give them your support this holiday season - there is no shortage of needy organizations out there.

  3. my in-laws, who can buy anything they like, asked us the buy goats or sheep on their behalf. they particularly love the charity "save the children" (who also have a good rating int he industry)......so, we have obliged them with a couple of goats!! we are feeling so wonderful about that and know they will be thrilled!
    xoxo GREAT IDEA AMY!!!!

  4. I have given to Heifer International in the past. This year for me, it's been Half the Sky and Equality Now. One of my girls chose to give her saving to our local animal rescue shelter. The other chose to purchase gifts to donate for families with children at our local elementary school. As much as we love having our Christmas tree, it's the giving part of this season that feels so good. Happy holidays to you Amy!


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