As the Spirit Moves Me: An animal may be the best Christmas gift


The little catalog arrived in the mail recently with my name and address on it with the picture of a sheep on the cover.

Described as the most important gift catalog in the world, it's about a heifer. You can contribute many items. Heifer International has been around for nearly seven decades, dating back to 1944. The organization has brought hope, help and healing to millions of impoverished families worldwide.

With their contributions, the first 69 years Heifer has assisted more than 18.5 million families worldwide, in 125 countries. In areas where hunger and despair once prevailed, Heifer programs have reinvigorated communities through livestock, training and passing on the Gift.

Heifer International works in the areas of livestock and agriculture to develop programs that alleviate hunger and poverty. The catalog says "Our field staff is comprised of specialists and our programs are considered among the most successful in the world."

Since the catalog carries an Albert Lea address, I called, then was told to call another number. There, I reached a location in Canada with a man whose accented English I could not understand. I suggest you use their website if you wish to order. That's .


The gift of a heifer, $500, or a $50 share of a heifer will eventually see that heifer growing into a cow, which might produce four gallons of milk daily. Heifers help families in Armenia escape hunger, where most families earn less than $2 per day.

Here's a project where large, civic-minded companies might give a $1,000 Milk Menagerie or just a $100 share. This presents a quality breed heifer, two goats and a water buffalo. These four milk-producing animals provide hard-working families with the start-up capital to provide a better life for their children.

How about a flock of Christmas chicks for $20? Give a goat for $120, or a share for $10. Since receiving the gift of two goats, Thellenza Pilafi, from Albania, has taken her family from poverty to the threshold of self-reliance.

"From the goats I can expect to get milk, cheese, butter and even more money," she said.

Heifer animals are like living savings accounts for struggling families, and a pig may be the most interest0-bearing. A $120 pig, or a share of one for $10, has given prosperity to Betsi Delphine from Mva, Cameroon. She's a widow caring for her 8-year-old granddaughter, Zanga. She applied to Heifer International for a pig and received two, a male and a female. Soon she had eight baby pigs and was able to pass on two piglets to another family.

With her earnings, Delphine was finally able to afford mosquito netting to prevent malaria. She is now able to invest in Zanga's future.

"From this project I have been able to pay her school fees and take her to the hospital when she's ill," Delphine said. "I can also afford good food and clothing for her."

The idea behind Heifer is similar to the notion that it's better to teach a man to fish so he can feed himself than to give him a fish that will feed him just once. One animal could eventually benefit an entire community.


Next week: The story of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rochester.

Harley Flathers is a 60-year radio broadcast veteran and is active as a sales account executive for Clear Channel's three Rochester stations. Got a comment for Harley? Send it to or to Harley at Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903.

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