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Give her a heifer

By Jennifer M. Latzke

As I write this, my email and social media accounts are clogging exponentially with the latest ads and sales circulars for the Valentine's Day holiday.

There are the usual sales on flowers and sparkly baubles. But, if your sweetheart isn't into bling and mushy gestures--or you'd rather look to an alternative gift--you might consider these offerings.

The folks at Certified Angus Beef encourage their Facebook followers to buy "a big, beautiful Certified Angus Beef brand steak, slap on a bow and give it to your sweetie with a card: "You're so rare! Be my Valentine and we'll sizzle!" Not to be outdone, Certified Hereford Beef has a board on Pinterest full of romantic meal ideas as well. Then, there's the DIY "bacon roses" idea that's floated around the Internet for at least a couple of years now. A dozen would be perfect for that swine sweetie in your life.

But, you know what would be a really grand romantic gesture? Buying your Valentine a heifer--or a water buffalo, or a goat, or a trio of rabbits, or even a set of honeybees.

And you wouldn't even have to find room for them on the farmstead.

This Valentine's Day, the charity Heifer Project International is offering an alternative to flowers and chocolates. They're offering folks the opportunity to share the love of the holiday with villagers around the globe by donating animals.

Since 1944, this organization has worked to end hunger and poverty not by giving handouts, but by giving hand-ups. The livestock that are donated through Heifer Project aren't just sources of food, but they help improve the economy of the villagers. Through good animal husbandry, one pair turns into many, and those progeny are shared among the villagers so that everyone gets a chance at a better standard of living. It's a long-term solution to improve communities--one gift of livestock at a time.

Over the course of nearly 70 years Heifer Project has helped 15.5 million families in 125 countries. From the first shipment of cattle and horses in the 1940s to rebuild Europe after WWII, to projects in the 1970s that emphasized women's roles in agriculture, to today's new model of scaling up the impact of its work to create sustainable community development, this charity is working toward a future where it is no longer needed. A future where everyone goes to bed at night in a warm shelter with a full belly.

So, this year, instead of a dozen roses and some chocolates, why not give some honeybees to your honey? For the cost of dinner and a movie you could give a trio of rabbits to your cuddle bunny. And, for the price of a diamond necklace, you could give your darling a darling little heifer.

Now that's a grand romantic gesture.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

Date: 2/18/2013

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