How One Cow Plus a Flock of Chickens Made a Gift of Love

by | Nov 16, 2021

Catalog shopping is a finely-honed skill. I know this comes as no surprise because most of us have kicked it up a notch as we weathered the shutdown of 2020 and dealt with the loss of some of the mom-and-pop shops we frequented.

We may need special assistance at our house to transport the mail from the curb to the kitchen table as the stack of catalogs grows daily. And, unfortunately, how catalog retailers view us and the science they employ to increase our response isn’t helping.

What happened to early predictions about internet use and a paperless world dependent on email, easy searches, and social media? It was going to take over communication, education, and shopping. Instead, retailers have learned we are good at ignoring the ads running up and down the sides of our computer screens.

So, even Amazon, the most successful online retailer the world has ever known, sent a catalog this year.

Somewhere a research company is testing what parts of our brain light up as we flip through glossy pages filled with our every dream and convenience.

Did you know mail-order retailers hope that the recipient will purchase at least one item? Only one. Judging from the amount of time the FedEx and UPS trucks roam our neighborhood, that math must be working.

A Harvard Business Review article reported response rates had increased 170% between 2004 and 2018. The growth rate is probably super-sized since 2020.

Primed and Ready to Shop

On reflection, I was primed for this moment from early childhood. The Sears and Roebuck Co., the Montgomery Ward & Co. and the J.C. Penney catalogs were fixtures in our home. The toy sections were well-worn. The clothing pages provided countless dress design ideas for my mother and her Singer sewing machine.

While still in elementary school, the first J.C. Penney Christmas catalog arrived. So now, my brother and I had three catalogs to study before writing letters to Santa.

Today, we have piles of catalogs and only one retail question to answer – will she or won’t she buy. Once that’s settled, the critical question is will I buy for others or spend on myself.

The answer was evident last week as one catalog stood out from all the others, the Heifer International 2021 Gift Catalog: Holiday Giving Guide. Heifers, goats, pigs, and chickens fill the pages along with pictures of recipients. This buying opportunity is a gift to families, small farmers, entrepreneurs, and children, to anyone I might honor, and to me.

One Gift, a Cow, Chickens and Triple Joy

You see, recently, we lost Kayla, a thirteen-year-old family member, to leukemia. I learned at her funeral that one of her life goals was to own a herd of heifers and was already saving money to make good on that dream. But, Kayla was also a child with a kind and caring heart, always looking for ways to help others.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase a heifer in her memory by donating to Heifer International. And, getting into the spirit, I had to include a flock of chicks. The good feelings that accompanied our donation were a gift to us. The milk cow feeds a family, and the chicks provide food and eggs to sell at the market. That’s our gift to reduce poverty in parts of the world I will never see. And the honor goes to a child who left an indelible mark on the world in a few short years.

Remember Someone Special this Holiday Season

With the holidays upon us, it’s the perfect time to remember or recognize family and friends. Your gift sends messages of hope and encouragement by honoring a cause they valued or an organization where they volunteer.

Nonprofit organizations everywhere are wrapping up fundraising for the year and will be glad to share news of your gift with friends and family. First, look for an organization you trust or can verify is healthy and safe. Then, make your gift.

Where can your gift put a smile on someone’s face and warm the heart of someone you love?

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