Youth from the West Hartford church raised funds for several years in order to donate an ‘ark’ through Heifer International.
Members of the youth group and children who attend Sunday school at Flagg Road UCC in West Hartford voted to start fundraising for a second ark five years ago.
Juliannah Xavier, one of the youths involved with the fundraising, said, “We visited Heifer International’s farm in Rutland, MA, and were inspired to do something great to help. Today, we fulfilled our mission! A whole ark!”
The money was raised through weekly offering contributions as well as some fundraisers, including a church-wide tag sale last spring. There are currently eight children in the Sunday School and seven youths in the youth group, which is why this feat is so exceptional.
This is actually Flagg Road UCC’s second gift ark. The first one was given in 2006.
Some of the youths went on a retreat recently and were charged with describing the church in six words. They said, “Small, but mighty. Strong and kind.” Flagg Road UCC is a small, but active congregation.
One of the youths reminded church leadership of a quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world – indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!” (Authors’s note: This is the kind of empowerment and optimism that makes me hopeful!)
The children naturally relate to animals, and have come to understand that the gift of an animal to a person in need is a comfort as well as a gesture that will greatly benefit that person’s whole community.
Liz Ellis, the community engagement coordinator for Heifer in New England who came to accept the check on Feb. 11, presented a plaque and spoke to the congregation during Children’s Time. She listed the positive changes that occur to the gift recipient by listing the seven “M”s: the gift provides milk, manure, meat, muscle (for farming), money, materials, and motivation. She went on to say that when the animal produces offspring, that the offspring is then given away to someone else in the community, so the same gift can benefit someone else up to nine times.
According to the Heifer website: “The Gift Ark changes the world two by two. A Gift Ark donation includes two water buffalos, two cows, two sheep and two goats, along with bees, chicks, rabbits and more. Donating a gift ark will help
- care for entire communities with milk, eggs, honey, and wool
- provide income by supplying an abundance of goods to sell
- sustain farming by providing livestock to work the land
- improve the lives of families for generations by multiplying and passing on the gift
The Gift Ark donation goes around the world, from Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas. Wherever we find hunger, poverty and hopelessness, we answer with the animals, training, and encouragement provided by your generous animal gifts.”