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December 14, 2011

Column #1,581

The Perfect Christmas Gift: A Goat for the Poor

By Mike McManus

            You won’t find the perfect Christmas gift in the mall, but in a “World Vision Gift Catalogue(www.worldvisiongifts.org).

“Celebrate the true Spirit of Christmas: Share real hope and healing with God’s children everywhere,” it proclaims

            Consider giving a goat that would nourish a family with milk, cheese and yogurt plus a surplus that could be sold in the market so the family could earn money for necessities. A goat produces fertilizer that can be used to increase the amount of vegetables a family might grow in a garden. Cost: only $75.

            “My very own goat saved my family from hunger,” wrote Thabani, 11, a fatherless boy in Zimbabwe.

            Is $75 more than you can afford?  How about giving 2 chickens and “Umpteen eggs,” to a poor child in Asia or Africa for only $25? Fresh eggs mean protein for the family plus the option of selling of extra eggs.  Stuff a card in a child’s stocking indicating that you have given  chickens in their name to hungry children in a poor nation.

            Or consider this: give your adult child a card that you have given a stocked fish pond to a village in their name that will feed an entire community.   Cost: just $200 that will include digging the pond and adding fast-growing fish like tilapia.

            There are many other options.  If you give a sow to a family, it will produce as many as 20 piglets a year.  Within six months, each pig will weigh 200 pounds, fetching a hefty price at the market.  The income can be used for children’s education, medicine and food.

            “I nearly collapsed with joy,” wrote Victoria, a widowed mother, when she learned she was receiving a cow from a World Vision donor. “I saw it as God’s abundant grace on my life,” and that of her six children.  With good reason.  One cow yields up to 5,000 gallons of milk during its lifetime, or 120,000 glasses of milk. 

            A cow costs $500, but one can buy a share of a cow for $50.

            Last year 150,000 World Vision donors gave 850,000 recipients gifts like these that cost $34 million.  What’s encouraging is that giving is up this year, despite the recession. “Perhaps the recession has made us more in tune with the needs of others,” says spokesman John Yaeger.

            Last year more than 80,000 goats were purchased by donors, and 182,000 chickens! There are more than 40 gifts for $25 or less.  Personalized cards are included with every gift, allowing the donor to notify the gift recipient.  If you would like to give a truly meaningful gift, go to the online catalogue. That’s how more than half the gifts are now chosen.

            Some are particularly creative: an $85 bike that can protect a girl and help her get an education. (Many girls drop out rather than risk a long walk to school, where they can be assaulted.)  A sewing machine for $270 will lift a woman out of poverty.

            World Vision’s primary work is to provide hope and assistance to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries.  Many of the Christian ministry’s 1 million donors, give $35 a month to secure the future of children and families.

            “Food for the Hungry” has a similar Christmas ministry whose catalog you can explore at www.fh,org/catalog.  For example, how about a pair of Guinea Pigs for only $15?  They require little space and reproduce quickly, providing many meals.  The gift includes feed for the first six weeks. 

            Or two rabbits for only $16 which can be the foundation for a prosperous family business.  There’s a need for 700 rabbits in Bolivia. 

            Cherry Hills Christian Middle School was congratulated for raising an “astounding $3,900” which they used to select more than 300 items.

For example, such kids could buy a high-producing Rwandan hybrid cow for only $585 which produces twice as much milk as a regular cow. Each family who gets a cow agrees to give one of their offspring to another needy family.  A great way to assist families, who are struggling to survive in a land recovering from genocide and AIDS.

Or consider a $100 gift that provides a “Vet Kit” that helps a person care for up to 20 animals a day. The kit includes antibiotics, vaccines, syringes and other medicines.

It’s hard to imagine a more meaningful Christmas gift!

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