Heifer Project International (HPI) is a worldwide Christian organization that strives to care for the environment and end hunger and poverty. HPI carries out this mission by providing gifts of live animals to families in developing countries. HPI also provides training in agriculture and animal care to teach these families how to utilize their gifts. HPI is unique in that it provides gifts that families can independently use to better their own situations; it does not simply give people in poverty a handout.
Megan Gregory 04, Student Congregation vice president of stewardship and head of this fundraising effort, said that HPI "really does empower communities to become self-reliant" through a "holistic and participatory approach."
HPI also provides tree seedlings to restore soil nutrients and prevent erosion. Through the animal and environmental training provided by HPI, Gregory said that the organization "forms the basis for nourishing a community, both physically and spiritually."
Financial support for HPI comes from donations in which people purchase a "share" of an animal (one-tenth of the animals cost). The cost covers the purchase and transport of the animal, and the training provided once the families receive it. By offering the purchase of animal "shares," HPI is able to offer a large number of affordable gifts.
Student Congregation joined with HPI three years ago to raise $5000, enough to purchase a "Gift Ark" made up of 15 different kinds of animals.
Student Congregation and Environmental Coalition hope to purchase another ark this year. Gregory said, "We have a great start." However, about $800 is still needed to reach the target goal of $5000. "But I say, why stop there? If every St. Olaf student gave just $2, we would almost have enough for two Gift Arks ... just think what a difference that would make!" said Gregory.
The Student Congregation and Environmental Coalition will be holding a Living Gift Market for HPI outside the caf from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Mon. Nov. 3 through Wed., Nov. 5.