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Third-graders collect change for Heifer International

They collected enough change to help eight families in another country.

The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton third graders earned and collected $650 for Heifer International. The students collected loose change and money from their families and friends and even set up a booth after parish Masses.

The third graders wanted to help as many families as they could. They chose the following gifts: water buffalo, goat, pig, three rabbits, honeybees, two flocks of chicks and a flock of ducks and geese. These gifts will initially help eight families.

Heifer International is a nonprofit organization that helps to empower hungry families to lift themselves from poverty to self-reliance. The organization reaches out to poor families around the world who are on the brink of starvation and helps them raise livestock and grow crops to provide stable sources of food and income. The families then return the gift by helping other families with products from their livestock or farm.

Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. Moved by the plight of orphans and refugees of the Spanish Civil War as he ladled out meager rations of powdered milk, Dan West, an Indiana farmer, volunteer relief worker and Church of the Brethren member, was surprised that the people needed "a cow, not a cup"--cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid. From that simple idea, Heifer International was born.

In 1944, the first cows sent abroad were donated by West's neighbors and distributed throughout Europe following World War II. More than 67 years later, Heifer International has expanded its mission, just as it expanded to 30 types of animals it now provides--from goats, geese and guinea pigs to bees, silkworms and water buffalo.

West's vision of a worldwide program to end hunger and poverty came from his Christian faith, and today, Heifer International works with people of all beliefs, or no beliefs, to overcome poverty and hunger.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a handout, Heifer International empowers them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, the program helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.

The animals don't just provide project partners with a reliable source of food, but also a reliable source of income. Extra agricultural products, such as milk from cows or goats, honey from bees or eggs from chickens, can be both shared within the community and sold at market. This new income allows partners to clothe their families, provide them with medical care, and send their children to school.