Giving Tuesday: For the Love of Cows

As I type this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $279,000 dollars.

It’s also Giving Tuesday. And I’m going to be honest with you. Part of me really wants to be snarky about that. This year someone used the term “Thanksgiving Eve” around me, and I went on a tirade because no. No there is no such thing as that. We started with Thanksgiving. Then we got Black Friday and that was fine. Then there was small business Saturday and that was kinda okay. Because yay, small businesses…

But then there was Cyber Monday too, and you know what? Not everything has to have a day. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday. So no, thank you very much, it’s not Thanksgiving Eve.

So I’m going to be honest with you. I feel a little bit the same about Giving Tuesday. That cussed, contrary part of me *really* wants to have a problem with it. It feels kinda… artificial.

Boy, this isn’t the best way to start off a charity blog, is it? I’m doing this all wrong.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I happen to feel right now, today is still Giving Tuesday. It’s a day when a lot of people feel moved to donate to charity. And even at my most curmudgeonly, I think that’s pretty great.

And *because* it’s Giving Tuesday, I’m supposed to write a blog that will inspire y’all. To be generous. To dig deep. To think of others. To pick Worldbuilders as your charity of choice, donate, (and maybe win some fabulous prizes while you’re at it.)

I’ve written those blogs in the past. Typically about halfway through the fundraiser I get caught up in the excitement, write something passionate, and y’all warm my bitter heart & stomp out to donate. This has happened ever year so far, and it reinforces my belief that humanity is good. And that geeks in particular are lovely, empathetic, large-hearted individuals.

But this year… I don’t really have a great idea for a blog. I… honestly? I just feel so tired. Every day the news beats me down a little more. Every day it seems like the world is a little more on fire. Every day it seems like we’re just a little closer to the brink.

And we just had my dad’s funeral this weekend. I’m not bouncing back from that as quickly as I thought I would.

But the fact remains that it’s Giving Tuesday. And I’m the only one who can write this blog. So I’m writing a blog. And, apparently, I’m determined to make a mess of it. This really isn’t how it’s supposed to go….

*     *     *

I just got up from the computer and had a walk, pretty convinced that when I sat down again, I’d have to erase what I’d written and start over.

But instead, I found this on my dining room table.

(Click to embiggen)

This is a box my son brought over to my house a couple weeks ago at the beginning of our fundraiser. It’s full of change he’s been collecting all year. He *really* wants to get enough to buy a cow for a family through for Heifer International.

If you want to know why, here’s the video from a couple years ago:

My boy knows a cow costs $500, and he’s been working at it tirelessly. He scrounges the house for change, going through our pants pockets and couch cushions. He has emptied both his own piggy bank and his brother’s. He opened a store after Halloween, selling his candy haul piece by piece to anyone who came over to the house….

Sometimes he just straight-up shakes people down for money, explaining how helpful a cow can be to a family that doesn’t have much food or money. In fact, just this weekend at my dad’s visitation, I found out he was offering funeral home mints to people for a quarter. I explained, gently, that this might not be the best place for that. But not before he brought me a check a kind soul had written out to Worldbuilders.

Somehow I don’t think my dad would mind. Especially not given what I found in the box just now.

I think this must have come from a letter they exchanged over the last year. My dad wasn’t an easy man to persuade, but he had a soft spot for my little boy….

I don’t know if I have a real point to sharing this with you except to say that finding this box made me feel… happy. I feel proud of my boy. And right now, when my own enthusiasm is at a little bit of a low ebb, it’s nice to be able to borrow a little bit of excitement.

If you want to be excited about what a cow can do for a family, you should watch this video. It’s not even two minutes long.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to show my boy that video. We’ll count his change and we’ll talk about cows.

In fact, I’m going to invite him to come livestream with me tomorrow, too. (For the next two weeks, I’m streaming to raise awareness of our fundraiser 4-7 CST every day.) Tomorrow, he and I will do it as a team. We’ll play some video games and talk about cows.

You can come on over to my stream and meet him, if you like. Maybe a little of his enthusiasm will rub off on you too.

That seems like a nice way to spend Giving Tuesday.

[edit: Amanda here! We’ve made a team page to support Oot and his change jar, so if you want to help him raise enough for a cow, you can donate here.]

*     *     *

Just to be clear, Heifer International doesn’t just deal in cows. It works with people around the world to improve their lives in the long term. They don’t give people a loaf of bread or a sack of rice. They provide animals and materials sometimes. But more importantly they provide education. They provide the training and tools to become better, more efficient farmers and business people.

Take Félix Octavio Rosales for example. He’d been farming for many years before he received Heifer training as a part of the Healthy and Sovereign Land project.

Félix and his wife, Mrs. Gómez, had been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides without understanding what they were doing and the harm they were causing to not just their farm, but their health.

They attended multiple workshops and training sessions with the Healthy and Sovereign Land project and were educated in how to make their own fertilizers and pesticides naturally. Instead of spending money on agricultural chemicals, they made their own out of the rabbit and guinea pig manure they already had at hand. Their soil has become nutrient rich, and the produce yield has increased significantly.

Mrs. Gómez has been able to sell the additional produce at the weekly market fair, empowering her to contribute income to her family.

“Another change is in my health,” Félix said. “I see this reflected in the way I feel when I work and when I have to walk long distances; I feel better. I see these changes because the food we eat is natural, without chemicals.”

And all of this was through education alone, provided by Heifer International.

The projects that involve gifts like chickens require training too, like Ndiolle Faye went through.

For many years, Faye’s family lived in poverty, struggling to get two meals a day during the off-season on their farm, and eating mostly millet the rest of the year. Faye was unable to go to school as a child, and though she tried to make it a priority to send her children to school, there was never enough money.

Then Faye joined the Wax Bakh Self-Help Group as a part of a Heifer project.

“Assistance started with a series of trainings, building a hen house and the placement of four hens and an improved breed rooster,” she said. “There was great joy in my family and in the  community. I saw this as an opportunity to move ahead in life.”

She received the gift of a flock of chickens, which quickly grew from 5 birds to 155. Her family’s income greatly increased, and she was able to run a business as she’d always hoped to do.

Less than two years later, she had sold more than 100 chickens. She used that money to buy 2 young rams for the purpose of fattening them up and re-selling them, providing more income and further diversifying her farm. Now she buys and sells rams three times a year, and invests the money into her poultry farm as well as saving more for her family.

She no longer worries about paying for her children’s education. If she doesn’t have the money, she can simply sell some of her chickens at the beginning of the semester to pay for school fees, new clothes, and supplies.

By integrating livestock and agriculture, she increased her income while improving her family’s food security and nutrition. Growing the flock increased the quantity of manure available, which she used to replenish the soil. As a result, her farm yield has increased by 20 percent. She keeps a portion of the harvested produce to add nutritional diversity to their meals.

Now, two years after receiving her flock of chickens, her family eats three nutritious and diverse meals daily, all year long.

Faye has also participated in the Heifer Cornerstone of Passing on the Gift, where she shares her training and a starter flock of birds to families who are in need.

And get this: As of today, she has Passed on the Gift to 11 different families.

“I am a happy woman. I meet my needs, and support my family. I own a poultry farm and we eat well. I can sell poultry anytime we face any challenge. We eat eggs and chicken as we want. And I have basic livestock husbandry skills – all thanks to the Smallholder Income and Nutrition Project.”


Okay. Now I’m into it again. I’m excited. Are you feeling it? Because I’m feeling it….

This is what we’re doing with our fundraiser, folks. This is what Heifer International does, and everything you donate to the fundraiser goes to help programs like this.

The gift of Bountiful Harvest training costs $72.

The gift of a flock of chickens, and the training necessary to raise them, is only $20.

Clean water for a whole village costs $300.

A cow, of course, costs $500 dollars. As my son will no doubt explain to you tomorrow on our livestream.

If the world is getting you down, try joining us here at Worldbuilders. You can give a family the chance to be self-reliant. You can help parents feed their children. You can literally change someone’s life forever. Seriously.

Here’s that donate link one more time.

This entry was posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Heifer International, Oot, Worldbuilders 2017. By Pat9 Responses


  1. mmclose
    Posted November 28, 2017 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been giving to WorldBuilders for years now. But this year I got an email from work that the company would be matching giving Tuesday donations up to $500. And Heifer International is one of the charities that is eligible. So I think that in order to get the most benefit for those in need I’ll have to forego WorldBuilders this year. My donation of one Heifer will become two.

    Thank you for all that you do through WorldBuilders, Pat. It always makes me feel so energized to see so many people mobilized to give and do good and make a difference in the world. It also brings me great joy to know that my favorite author is a pretty cool guy who cares about making a difference, and is raising his children to be aware that there are people in the world that need the help that we can give.

    • eclaasse
      Posted November 28, 2017 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

      You should be able to give on Heifer’s site with Worldbuilders selected and still get the match from your company? Unless you have to do it through some company portal, not Heifer directly.

      • mmclose
        Posted November 28, 2017 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

        Had to do it through the company’s portal, unfortunately. It’s okay. Heifer gets two heifers, which is more important than me being entered into a lottery to get cool books and games. :)

  2. rjler
    Posted November 28, 2017 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    Pat, as much as we love seeing you, you have GOT to take care of yourself better. ok, do the stream with Oot because gee he’s cute and smart and funny, but then stop. Pull back and be with your family. Go for walks or sit and read or play games. Some quiet time. Some restoring-the-soul time. Make some cookies. Hug your family. A lot.

    • gruppler
      Posted November 28, 2017 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

      And if the news is weighing so heavily on you all the time, stop filling your head with it! If something really important happens that requires your attention, trust someone to let you know. It’s just not worth the FUD.

  3. Kashiraja2
    Posted November 28, 2017 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    I think it’s good mental health to not follow the news too closely. the media is biased towards the sad. it doesn’t help politics is often sad and outrageous, but it’s not healthy to be in a constant state of outrage.

    I immigrated to the US from europe where basic human needs like health care and education are provided to everyone (contrary to what’s in the US), and if I stop to think about it, even without checking the news, I can get all outraged and really, if I check the news it’s enough to go from outrage into depression.

    happiness is a force for change, and we should safeguard our happiness from the constant attacks from corrupt politicians and depressing news, without losing touch with reality, of course

  4. F.N.T.
    Posted November 28, 2017 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    Yes, I’m feeling it Pat. I’m feeling all of it.

    Y’know, just as you can’t be courageous without being afraid, I don’t think you can be truly awesome without feeling crappy – feeling crappy but doing it anyway is true awesome.

    You’re a hero to me, Pat. Not in an awkward, worship-the-ground-you-walk-on, maybe-get-a-restraining-order way, but in the sort of way that when I’m casting around for inspiration to help me live up to the pedestal my kids inexplicably put me on, I think: be more like that – that’s awesome, that’s what I want my kids to see.

    And the way Oot is so determined about that cow, that, right there, is proof that, despite feeling so crappy, you’re still smashing it.

    I’ve been checking out your blog and lurking in your twitter stream for long enough to know that I’m not the only person who sees you this way – and I’m pretty confident that I’m not alone when I say: we got this.

    Don’t worry, we got this.


  5. lykashii
    Posted November 28, 2017 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    I’m definitely feeling it! When does it end again? I want to write a blog post about it.

    • Amanda
      Posted November 28, 2017 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

      December 8th!

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