I’m thankful year-round for the many blessings I have: a wonderful family, a caring group of friends and co-workers, good health, a rewarding career and so much more. Too often, though, I don’t think about those who are less fortunate and what we can do to ease their hunger and discomfort.

A few weeks ago, I received a catalog from Heifer International. In case you’re not familiar with this organization, it has been in operation for 69 years. During that time, the organization has assisted more than 18.5 million families in more than 125 countries. Heifer International works in the areas of livestock and agriculture to develop programs to alleviate hunger and poverty. It is based on helping families help themselves.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says, “…Heifer International has inspired hope in hungry communities, where the gift of one animal can bring health, prosperity and peace.”

As the name implies, Heifer International started by providing dairy cows, along with the proper training in how to care for them. Not only was this a sustainable gift, but since a healthy cow can produce a calf every year, it provided an opportunity to help a community move from poverty to self-reliance.

Heifer International now provides goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, fish, llamas, camels, water buffaloes and bees in addition to cows! It also offers tree seedlings, biogas stoves and irrigation pumps. In other words, it recognizes the importance of identifying the needs of a community and is working within that community’s culture to provide necessary tools for survival and hopefully, future prosperity.

Here’s an example
Betsi Delphine lives in Camaroon. She is a widow caring for her 8-year-old granddaughter. Betsi received a boar and gilt from Heifer International. When her sow had piglets, she gave two to another family. The nutrients from the manure have helped her double her crop yields. Best of all, with her earnings from the pigs, she was able to buy mosquito bed nets to prevent malaria and is able to pay for her granddaughter’s school fees.

A new tradition
I’ve been blessed and truly, like so many Americans, we have much to be thankful for. It makes sense to give a pig or other animal (but really, as editor of PorkNetwork it should be a pig, don’t you think?) as a present to help a family that is just trying to meet its basic needs. It’s a small gesture in a world that has so many people who need help, but it’s a start.

What will you do this year to help others? Share your ideas with us, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.