First Presbyterian Church, Franklin, celebrated a 10-year commitment to feeding the hungry through participation in the Heifer International Organization on Sunday, April 21. As part of the celebration, the Service and Missions Team served cheese and other dishes made from goat’s milk, and gave attendees the opportunity to “get up-close and personal” with visiting baby goat, Beatrice, owned by Joel and Arvil Scott of Otto.
Team member Nick Potts, who visited the Heifer International ranch with the First Presbyterian youth group as a teen, explained why goats are so important in helping the hungry and relieving poverty.
“Goats can thrive on poor land, in extreme climates, and eat shrubs other animals leave behind. Yet a nanny goat can produce several quarts of milk a day, over a ton in a year. The milk is rich in protein — essential for growing children — easy to digest, and families can make cheese and butter from excess milk to sell at local markets.”
Heifer International, headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., is a global nonprofit relief organization dedicated to ending poverty and hunger in a sustainable fashion. And it all started with a cow! In 1944, Pennsylvania farmer Dan West, an aid volunteer during the Spanish Civil War, observed, as he ladled out powdered milk to hungry children, “These children don’t need a cup. They need a cow.”
When West returned home to Pennsylvania, he began Heifer International with little more than an idea and a personal pledge to help the hungry. More than 65 years later from this modest beginning, when West and some of his neighbors shipped 17 calves to Puerto Rico to families whose children had never tasted milk, Heifer International has expanded its mission to provide 30 types of animals — from goats, geese, chickens, and cows, to bees, silkworms and water buffalo. Operating from the belief that a hand-up, and not a hand-out, is the best way to tackle poverty, Heifer has helped families in the United States, all across Central Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific with not only farm animals, but with farming assistance and teaching volunteers whose goals are to instill sustainability in a community.
At the celebration, Potts shared with the group that one of the most interesting aspects of Heifer’s assistance is the Passing of the Gift.
“When families receive an animal, they agree to share the offspring of their gift with neighbors, thus fostering dignity within families and self-sufficiency within the community. This passing of the gift assures that one goat given to one family touches the lives of the whole community.”
Potts noted that since First Presbyterian began participating in Heifer International contributions have purchased 60 goats, one Llama, two pigs, five flocks of chickens, five flocks of geese, and 18 rabbits. Quarters dropped into the Heifer donation tubes located at the church have totaled more than 32,000, and would make a line stretching more than one-fourth of a mile. More information on the Heifer organization can be found at www.heifer.org.