Dan West, founder of the
Heifer, was assigned to pass out powdered milk to children during the
Spanish Civil War, says Laura Smith, director of parish education at
Divinity Lutheran Church, Parma Heights, Ohio. When the milk ran out,
he was quoted as saying, "Not a cup, but a cow is needed."
West challenged his friends back home to send heifers. Believing everyone who received should experience the dignity of giving,West conceived of the idea of "passing on the gift." Every family that receives an animal through Heifer must pass on one of that animals' offspring to someone else in need (www.heifer.org).
A cow in church? Well, all right. Not in church exactly — in its courtyard. Sunday school students at Divinity Lutheran, Parma Heights, Ohio, had a special visitor May 16 when Milkshake visited church as a part of "Heifer Holiday."
"Many of our Sunday schoolers have never had the chance to see a real cow, so I thought it would be great for them to see a calf and visualize what a family will be receiving from us," says Laura Smith, director of parish education, who came up with the idea of Heifer Holiday.
And there's definitely a method in her moo-ving madness. After a November fund-raising event at a pizzeria and a Lenten meal fund-raiser in February, the students had raised $700 to buy a cow — just like Milkshake — for an African family through Heifer International (see box). That was $200 more than they needed. With the extra funds, they sponsored a goat, chicks, ducks and some bees.
In two years, the kids have raised $1,070 for Heifer. Through the organization, youth can literally buy a cow, chicks, ducks, rabbits, sheep, goats and llamas — all of which Divinity's kids have so far sponsored — that will be given to families in need in the United States and globally.
Photo by Daryl TinayAs they posed for pictures with their new bovine friend, the (mostly) young students also enjoyed a Sunday morning snack of milk — what else? — and cookies.
Their visitor provided a dose of dairy reality — accompanying an ultimate life lesson.
"In November 2003, Divinity's board of parish education decided to put into practice the command by Jesus to 'Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself' (Luke 10:27)," Smith says.
She told the students: "You are going to change somebody's life forever. Don't ever think that you can't make a difference — because you can."
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers