Prospect Elementary buys a water buffalo

Third graders raise money to sustain a family

by Virginia Franco

Amy Chapman’s third grade class at Prospect Elementary wanted to really make a global impact this year. After some Internet digging, Chapman discovered Heifer International and so the class decided to buy a water buffalo.

A Little Rock, Ark.-based nonprofit organization, Heifer International helps alleviates worldwide hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation through gifts of food and income producing farm animals and training.

“I put Heifer International’s gift catalog on our smart board and the class discussed the benefits of each selection,” Chapman said. “After much discussion, they ultimately decided on a water buffalo.” The kids picked the creature because this it has the strength pull plows in the field, pull carts full of crops to market for sale, and provide milk to hungry families.

To raise the $250 needed to purchase a water buffalo, the class agreed to open a candy store – selling everything from Cow Tales to Blow Pops, even Halloween leftovers. “The children did everything from selling the candy to handling the money,” Chapman said. “We planned on opening the store for two weeks, but had to close down shop a day early because we ran out candy.”

Although final tallies will not be complete until after the Thanksgiving holiday, thus far the class has raised approximately $385 – more than enough to fund the water buffalo purchase.

Chapman used the experience to help teach her students about everything from entrepreneurship to counting money, budgeting and forecasting. The class will head back to the drawing board when they return from break to figure out how best to spend the extra money.

“The children want to help as many people as possible,” she explained, adding they will weigh the impact of purchasing everything from bees and chicks to bunny rabbits. “Chicks cost as little as $20,” Chapman said.

An effort to end world hunger

According to the Heifer International website, its education, fundraising and service-learning programs helped millions of people who were once hungry with milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables from Appalachian America to Zambia. Chapman’s class will find out where in the world their water buffalo will reside once they complete their purchase.

This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on decades ago when founder Dan West was ladling out milk rations to hungry children during the Spanish Civil War. When West returned home to Arkansas he formed a group dedicated to ending hunger permanently by providing families with livestock and training so that they could be spared the indignity of depending on others to feed their children. In 1944, the first shipment of 17 heifers left York, Pa., for Puerto Rico, going to families whose malnourished children had never even tasted milk.

For more information, visit www.heifer.org.

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