Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One simply amazing way to teach kids about giving

K.C. Joy, 8, and brother U.J., 4, the Philippines
Giving to a cause can be an abstract concept for children, especially young ones or those with special needs. But back when I was an editor at Glamour magazine, I discovered one way to make it concrete when I assigned an article to a writer about simple ways to give back for the holidays. One of the suggestions: donating to Heifer International.

Years later, it would be a go-to for helping my kids understand what it means to help those in need, along with doing annual hat and mitten drives in our neighborhood for a local shelter. Heifer International's core mission involves animals children love—and a clear-cut way to do good for other families.

Albert, 9, Kenya
For 70 years, the charity organization has worked with communities around the world to help families achieve sustainable livelihoods, and end hunger and poverty. Their ultimate goal isn't to hand over money; it's to make families self-reliant so they can care for themselves.

Diego, 8, Guatemala
Heifer does this by providing livestock, training, tools and education to small-scale farmers. In turn, the animals provide food and a dependable income, since people can sell or trade products including milk, eggs and honey at the market. And then there's the most wonderful community chain reaction, because once a bunch of families have a steady flow of income it brings new opportunities to build schools, create agricultural coops and fund small businesses.

This video does a good job explaining of how Heifer lifts families out of poverty:

Here's where our kids come in. Although there are many ways to give to Heifer International, children may especially appreciate gifting an animal to a family in need. You can give a goat, or share in giving a goat. You can give a heifer, or share the gift of one. You can give a water buffalo, an alpaca, a llama, a sheep, a pig, rabbits, honeybees, a flock of ducks, a flock of geece and a flock of baby chicks. It's all reasonable amounts—a flock of chicks is a mere $20. That's a few Starbucks runs.

Mohammed Robin, 2, Bangladesh
The core of Heifer's model: Passing on the Gift. Families hand off the first female offspring of their livestock to another family, along with training, becoming donors themselves. So it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Michele, 6, Guatemala
By 2020, Heifer aims to help 4 million families achieve living incomes—ones that will allow them to feed themselves year round, send their kids to school, and have proper housing, water, hygiene and other key resources.

Mary Grace, 11, and Eden Mary, 6, the Philippines
Once you make a donation of any amount, you can select an "honor card" that Heifer will email right away or on a date you choose. If you make a gift in honor of a child, for instance, the text reads, "A gift has been given to a family who doesn't have enough to eat. That family will no have enough to eat so their children can grow up to be healthy and strong. You are making a difference for another child in the world." You can add your own personal message.

Your children will understand the importance of helping. Children thousands of miles away will have a better future. That's a gift for everyone.

Visit to learn more and check out their online gift catalog.

Dil Sarah and nephew Palavi, 9 months, Nepal
Images: Heifer International/Flickr

This post was produced with support from Heifer International. 


  1. I did not know about this charity, thank you SO much for sharing ! What a great project and what a simple way to make a difference! Susannah

  2. This is something I can really get behind because it promotes self-reliance. Do they (the organization) also donate equipment and care for the animals?

  3. Cute photos.Generally I don't comment on websites, but I'd just like to mention that this post really has forced me to do so!

  4. Beautiful photos i like it so much i will share all this photos with my brother imad.


Thanks for sharing!

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