Holiday Gift Giving. Animal Parts Wrapped With A Bow.

October 24, 2008

Rather listen? Here’s the podcast of today’s column…


Heifer International sent me a catalog today. I’m not sure how I got on their list, but I’m also not sure why I’ve gotten nearly 500,000 pieces of spam email in the last two weeks. So the mysteries of the universe will probably continue.

If you’ve never opened a Heifer catalog, I urge you to run away and run away quickly. This piece of crap catalog isn’t a neat, glossy mag that lets you drool over gadgets or toys or kitchenware or even clothes.

No. It’s a catalog that lets you buy animals or pieces of animals.

Hold on. I know you’re thinking that Hickory Farms is also a nice little company that lets you purchase animal parts in the form of savory beef sticks or cheese blocks or even entire meals.

This Heifer catalog is nothing like that. They’re selling you a real animal that you then give to a family in need.

Sounds noble. I buy a llama and then it’s given via Heifer International to a needy family somewhere in the world. Or so you’d think.

But the noble cause doesn’t really have legs and the animals you purchase might not even exist. You see, in the small print on page three of the catalog, Heifer says that their limited resources don’t allow them to really track each individual animal gift.

But they want to assure buyers that “your gift supports the entire Heifer Mission. We use your gift where it can do the most good by combining it with the gifts of others to help transform entire communities.”

This is ridiculous. If I wanted to transform an entire community I’d buy a village somewhere in a third world nation. I’m drawn in by the promise of being able to gift a llama or pig or goat or cow to a family and then I’m told that these things might not really be gifted.

What the heck!?

If I buy a pig and want to give it as a gift, Hickory Farms ensures that tasty pig parts get to my recipient. Not Heifer International. That’s crap. I might as well just buy one of those African children that Sally Struthers sells on late-night television.

At least with those kids you get a photo and sometimes a letter. With this crock of an animal giving program you don’t even get a feather or a snout necklace to memorialize the animal you’ve purchased.

I might not have grown up on a farm, but I can tell when someone’s shoveling manure. And Heifer International has crapped on my gift-giving plans for this holiday season.

More to come…