|Nevada church gives livestock to faraway families|
Nick Beaton holds a sheep he brought to Yerington
(Nev.) United Methodist Church for a Heifer International educational
and fundraising event. UMNS photos by Reed Galin.
By Reed Galin*
July 11, 2007 | YERINGTON, Nev. (UMNS)
Event organizer Linda Ingold watches over the goat-petting area.
Nick Beaton, 13, crouches with his arms around the neck of a sheep. He is sweating under the Nevada sun.
"I think I do have a connection with people in Africa even though
they’re on the other side of the world," he says, "because I know how
useful animals can be. They feed families and stuff."
Nick has brought some of his own sheep and goats to Yerington United
Methodist Church, where they are gathered on the lawn in temporary pens
for children to pet and feed. It's all part of a church fundraiser for
Heifer International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending
poverty and world hunger through self-reliance and sustainability.
Curious youngsters surround caged chickens and rabbits as the
children's parents peruse leaflets and fact sheets about Heifer
International. The Little Rock, Ark.-based group distributes animals to
poor regions of the world where a cow, goat or camel can make a huge
"Twenty dollars buy a flock of chickens," a volunteer explains. "Give
people live chickens, and they have eggs to eat and sell for years,
instead of one meal."
"Thirty dollars buy a share of a llama, or water buffalo, or pig."
A flock of chickens can be purchased for $20 and will
provide an impoverished family with eggs to eat and sell for years.
Standing at the donation table, Edna Bickel hopes someday her
finances will allow her to pay $500 to give a whole cow. But for now,
she hands over a few $20 bills, adding that her grandchildren really
don’t need more small cash gifts from their grandma.
Bickel likes how Heifer International teaches families how to care
for their animals and how to handle money. The organization also
requires receiving families to give their animal’s offspring to others.
"It’s a gift that keeps giving," says Bickel.
In Nick’s animal pen, a half dozen kids try to coax a light brown
calf to drink from an industrial-sized baby bottle. Nick tells them why
he wanted to get involved in his church's Heifer International
fundraiser, which will help families in Africa. "I know it’s hard there
because we learned about it in school," he says. "AIDS kills a lot of
people. They don’t have a lot of food and they die of starvation,
thirst, all that kind of stuff."
Located in a high desert community about 80 miles southeast of Reno,
Yerington has its own problems. The main street has many empty
storefronts, and some folks barely have enough income to take care of
their own families. But the sign at the front door of the church beckons
a faith-based approach to a sagging economy: "Try these four letter
words: love, help, give, care."
As he flips burgers in the shade behind the church, church member George
Mollart observes that this cookout would be a banquet for people who
will receive the animals from Heifer International. "I think that speaks
for itself that in our leisure time we can come here and do something
for someone else in their desperate time," he says.
A girl pets a calf as her family learns about the work of Heifer International.
It’s hot on this day — mid-90’s. The dry landscape around Yerington
is sparsely populated and there are few trees. Event organizer Linda
Ingold suggests this land is not unlike some places in the world where
Heifer International is at work.
The church has asked that money raised at the Yerington fundraiser be
earmarked for a community of single women with children in Zambia. None
of the 50 active members of Ingold's congregation has ever even been to
Africa, but they now have a connection with the women.
"It’s a small world now," Ingold says. "When we read about the
project, you kind of get a vision. We could be way off in our visions of
what they’re like or what’s happening. But I think they’ve had a pretty
rough life, and we would like to help them out any way we can.
"Now they’ll have milk from new goats, and they can drink it; they
can make food with it and sell it. All of a sudden they may be making
$20 a month when they’ve never seen that much in their whole life."
*Galin is a freelance producer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gift of Livestock
United Methodist Church sponsors 'Pet an Animal - Feed the World' project
Kids learn from the llamas
Churches offer ways to keep 'holy' in holidays
Alternative market shoppers give twice