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26 Nov 2010 - Gift of Giving - Great Opportunities

For the past couple of decades it has been a tradition on ‘Samuelson Sez’ to talk about ways we can give thanks and help other people during this holiday season.

There are two programs that I particularly endorse; the first one that I started working with a quarter century ago is Heifer International, and I have in my hands the 2010 edition of “The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World”. This is a program that was started at the end of World War II by an Indiana farmer who knew that the farmers and farms of Europe were ravaged by the war, with livestock slaughtered by troops and no way to even begin feeding themselves. So he initiated the idea of shipping a load of bred heifers to Europe where church groups distributed them to individual farmers, with the provision that when that first calf was born, it would be given to a neighbor so that it would become a gift passed on to ultimately benefit many people.

Today, with the help of many people who truly care, Heifer International has projects in dozens of countries, including the United States. Besides giving a heifer, you will find in the catalog the opportunity to give goats, sheep, llamas, rabbits, ducks, chicks, pigs, tree seedlings, honeybees, water buffalo and camels. The cost is as little as $20.00 for chicks or as much as $850.00 for a camel. The reason I strongly support the Heifer mission is because it gives people dignity and the ability to feed themselves instead of just accepting a handout. It also is the ideal gift for the person on your Christmas list who has everything. My wife and I have gifted several of our friends over the years, putting their name on a gift of hope for people they will never know. You can get full information, including the catalog, at their website www.heifer.org.

The other organization, Foods Resource Bank, was born ten years ago in Michigan. This program also provides people in developing countries the means to feed themselves. The concept works like this....farmers in church congregations donate land to produce crops and members of city congregations provide the funds to purchase the crop inputs. Then, at harvest time the congregations come together for a Harvest Celebration at the farm to harvest the crops, with proceeds going to farmers in other countries to buy better seed or dig new wells for clean water. This year there were more than 210 growing projects across the country and I attended a Harvest Celebration on a farm in northern Illinois in October. Besides helping less fortunate people, there is another benefit to this program; it brings city people to a farm and gives them a first-hand look at what it takes to put food on the table. If you would like to launch a project with churches in your community, here’s the website... www.foodsresourcebank.org.

I can’t think of a better way to share our blessings and say ‘thank you’ during this holiday season.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.