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28 November 2009 - Let's Give Thanks by Giving

For well over three decades now, it has been a tradition of mine on Samuelson Sez on Thanksgiving weekend, to yes, spend time giving thanks for our many blessings but also to suggest ‘giving' to others who are less fortunate.

There are many ways to do that but one of my very favorite avenues for over 35 years is Heifer International based in Little Rock, Arkansas. It started as Heifer Project International in 1944. World War II was winding down and Dan West, an Indiana farmer knew that farmers in Europe had been devastated, livestock herds killed and fields full of shell holes. He also knew that Europe's surviving farmers wouldn't want ‘handouts" or free food, they would want the ability to produce food and provide an income for their family. So Dan's solution was to gather a load of bred dairy heifers and ship them to Europe where, through a church organization, they were distributed to farmers who then promised the first-born calf would be given to a neighbor.

65 years later the idea is still working and growing. Jo Luck, the current President and CEO of Heifer International put it this way in the 2009 edition of "The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World.

"By giving families in need a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we can empower them to turn a life of hunger and poverty into one of self-reliance and independence. With the gifts of livestock and training, we help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. There are heifers that give milk . . . chickens that produce eggs . . . and sheep that provide wool. We refer to these animals as ‘living loans' because in exchange for receiving their animal and training in its care, each family agrees to give one of its animals' offspring to another family in need. It's called Passing on the Gift."

What a great idea for giving to those less fortunate; what a great gift idea for that person on your list who has everything. How about a heifer, a llama, a pig, a water buffalo, baby chicks or honey bees; there is something in everybody's price range. If you are concerned about helping people in need closer to home, Heifer International also works in impoverished areas here in the United States.

Get answers to all your questions at www.heifer.org. This is an ideal way to give thanks by helping others, and I urge you to join me in doing so.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.