Saturday, September 23, 2006

Don't Have a Cow...Give One

Last week Richard Branson pledged $3 billion to fight the global warming that certain people in Washington are pretending doesn't exist. It does, it's a problem, and Branson is doing something about it.

Not long ago Warren Buffett gave billions to the Gates Foundation to fight a variety of diseases including HIV and AIDS. Some in Africa and Asia still try to pretend that AIDS is not a problem. It is, and Buffett and Gates will make a difference.

I can spell "billionaire" but that's as close as I'll ever get to the likes of Branson, Buffett, and Gates. Ah, but I can make a difference just as they can. My choice is a solution to hunger that brings with it self-esteem, economic self-relieance, and the essential concept of giving back in recognition of the gifts you've been given.

My choice is Heifer International. I first learned about them several years ago, and thought it was one of the best ideas ever. Don't just give people food, give them the means to feed themselves. Don't just hand them a month's worth of cheese, give them the cow so they can feed their children, make their own butter and cheese, sell the extra milk, and work toward self-sufficiency. People around the world – including right here in the United States – receive not only an animal but also training on how to care for it.

But the best idea – the one that makes Heifer unique and so effective – is the idea of "passing on the gift." People who receive a cow, or chickens, or rabbits, or a llama, or any gift from Heifer, agree to pass on the gift by sharing the animals' offspring with others in need in their community. Thus, the gift of self-reliance and self-esteem multiplies and spreads through the community.

So every year the largest contribution I make is to Heifer. As my business grows, so will my donation. I can't think of a better way to express my gratitude for gifts I've received than to pass them on to where they can make a permanent and positive difference for people who only want to care for themselves and their families.

If you have a favorite cause, start setting aside something every month to give. If you don't have a favorite of your own, consider Heifer. And pass on the gift.

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