A project intended to be a small alternative to Christmas presents for teachers took off at St. Thomas Community Christian School recently.
“The kids took it by storm,” says principal Janet Baird. “(It) totally exploded in front of us.”
In early November staff asked students to forgo Christmas presents for their teachers and instead bring money to purchase livestock for families in developing countries.
Each class brainstormed about the type of animal they would like to purchase, none of them settling for something small, like a hen, says Baird.
“They made big, long lists and big goals.”
Students were instructed not to ask their parents for money but to come up with it on their own, perhaps by emptying their piggybanks or doing jobs for neighbours.
A number of classes also planned fundraisers. One class sold hot chocolate at the local hardware store. Another organized a gingerbread house event for which participants had to pay a fee.
A kindergarten class created tree ornaments and sold them to family and friends “at exorbitant prices” while another class brought in jars of candies and charged a toonie for every student to guess the number of treats in the jars.
Within a few weeks the school of 87 students raised $2,400 and was able to purchase one cow, three goats, six hens, two roosters, nine piglets, 10 rabbits and five sheep.
The funds were donated to World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.
World Vision purchases the livestock locally to ensure they are well-suited to the environment as well as to support the local economy and keep transportation costs to a minimum.
The organization works with local community leaders to ensure fair distribution of livestock among community-members. Beneficiaries are chosen on the basis of need.
For families in developing countries, livestock can help meet pressing needs as well as increase household income. For example, the gift of a sheep can help a mother provide milk and meat for her children, fertilize crops with the manure, and bring in extra money for things like school fees and school uniforms by selling the wool.