Heifer International

A true gift

Tracey Columns

It’s always a bit curious to me how readers react to a one of my columns. Believe me, opinions run all over the place and back again! For some individuals, I may strike the nail right on the head and they graciously take the time to thank me for my perspective. For others, who are responding to the exact same column, not only have I missed the mark by a mile  but I have stepped on tender toes in the process. (Sorry!) Human nature … it’s safe to say we are a country of countless perspectives.

Yet, sometimes in the middle of all of this, I get really good ideas that I want to pass on to you.

Consider the following email I received after I had written about Pinterest, the social media site that allows users to collect and share visually pleasing images, ideas, and retail promotion.

“Hello: I enjoyed your Pinterest column. And I have a suggestion. Why not tell people about another way to gift. Help someone or some village out. Gift them clean water or a cleaner burning cookstove or a heifer? (http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalogindex.html#panel) and feel good.’

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy things that people need.

Thanks again for your works.

Peace Out!”
Name Withheld

This response addresses an excellent point and in the spirit of this thoughtful reader, I’m going to add my two cents by saying,“right on”!

With the holidays just around the corner – sorry, I had to say it – the gift buying frenzy has begun. But thanks to this reader, we can all stop for a moment and really consider exactly what makes a good gift.

Does Uncle Joe really need another tie? Is your sister truly yearning for yet another cookbook? Have you lost count of how many Legos your grandchild already has?

I started asking myself these kinds of questions a number of years ago. Surveying my family, I realized that, while our children could use a few odds and ends, we adults were pretty well set. I began looking for special “gifts” that would put a real smile on my loved one’s faces. I know my brother and sister-in-law were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had made a donation in their name to the above mentioned Heifer International, money that was used to give a flock of ducks for a family in South America. After we gifted our dear mother “half a goat” for a family in need, she was so taken with the concept that she made a similar donation in the names of all of my children, remarking how good she felt to be able to “send the other half of the goat” to a hard working family somewhere in the world.

The kinds of things you can donate your money for are endless. Best of all, your donated items can truly reflect the interests of your family member or friend. Is your brother a handyman around the house? Maybe you want to contribute to building tools to someone who can then begin his/her own fix-it business? Is your auntie a dedicated gardener? There are programs that offer the seeds for an entire vegetable garden for a hungry and industrious family. Feeling grateful for the lives your grandchildren have? You can feed a child for an entire year. Glad your children received a good education? Many kids throughout the world need school supplies. Or maybe, when you turned on your tap this morning and clean, pure water flowed out, you thought of places where such a thing as this is nonexistent? There are quite a few organizations who offer all kinds of services and products that bring pure water to those places around the globe where water is undrinkable, in short supply, or virtually nonexistent.

The last line of today’s email states: “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy things that people need.” Perhaps, when donations are made for things that will improve the quality of people’s lives, money truly can buy happiness.

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)