A few years ago, I discovered Heifer International. They are a charity based on the whole idea of teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him a fish. Except that they actually give animals to families and communities in need all over the world. But the animals are a long-term source of income and skill building for these people, and help them climb out of poverty. They also must “pass the gift along” when their animal has offspring by giving to another family in need in their community.
Heifer International has been around since 1944, so this isn’t some fly-by-night nonprofit. They have helped over 7 million families since inception, and are one of the top 10 most trusted charities in America (as rated by Harris).
The reason I mention them now is that over the past several years, I have chosen to give to Heifer in the name of The Boy’s teachers. If you are looking for teacher gifts already for the holidays, I can tell you that as a teacher, something like this is way more appreciated than a trinket from the dollar store, or a coffee mug, or even a cookie (although I love cookies…). In their “gift” catalog, they have reasonably priced “gifts”, and I like to give the symbolic “flock of chicks” for taking such great care with my little “chick”. You can print a card directly from their website to give to the teacher (or other gift recipient!) that explains the gift and what it will do for the family who receives it (just a note: your donation does not really go directly to one family, but goes to the general fund from which projects are funded).
I love the idea of not just feeding people who are hungry (albeit very important), but building skills that will help them feed their families and communities for years to come. What greater gift is there?