How can you celebrate Giving Tuesday?
Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday and Cyber Monday may be over, but as we get in the spirit of the holiday season, there's one more day of the week we can celebrate -- Giving Tuesday.
Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday and Cyber Monday may be over, but as we get in the spirit of the holiday season, there's one more day of the week we can celebrate - Giving Tuesday.
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas gatherings, there's often a glut of gifts and baked goods, but what about those who won't have much under the tree this year? Giving Tuesday is a social media movement focused on helping those in need this holiday season.
For farmers and ranchers who may be looking to donate their time, talents and treasures to worthwhile causes, look no further than an agricultural-based organization that's doing good work in the community or around the globe.
Supporting a local 4-H club or FFA chapter is a good place to start, says Judy Thiessen, a South Dakota Farm Bureau member from Mitchell, S.D. These agricultural youth often need monetary support to help fund trips to the national convention or leadership camps. These young people are also a great way to endorse agricultural literacy programs such as Ag In The Classroom or Ag Education On The Move. These programs work to reach elementary school students and teach them about where their food comes from. Learn more at www.agclassroom.org and agmoves.com.
For many elementary students, school breakfast and lunch may be the only decent meals they have access to. For these young people, evenings and weekends can be difficult and hunger is a common theme. That's why Snack Pak 4 Kids was created.
The Texas-based effort is a weekend backpack program that provides more than 7,000 students protein-rich snacks. For every beef Snack Pak jerky stick sold in retail stores, one is donated to students. These sticks can be purchased online, as well, at www.sp4k.org .
Another organization that is working to end hunger is Heifer International, a non-profit organization that provides livestock to rural communities in need. Through this program, chickens, goats, cows or other livestock can provide eggs, milk, meat and food security to impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, North America and South America.
"Last year, I donated the equivalent of a goat and a flock of chickens," says Tricia Braid, Illinois Corn Growers Association director of communications. Donate an animal to someone in need by visiting www.heifer.org .
Along this same vein is AgriCorps, which offers boots-on-the-ground support to communities in need. Halfway around the world, Kentucky native Megan Harper is spending a year in Liberia as an AgriCorps Fellow. She spends her time as an agriculture teacher, FFA advisor and extension agent.
"Our main goal is to empower people to answer local problems with local solutions," says Harper. "We try to help people to think for themselves and also help connect dots in the community."
She says agriculture in Liberia is pretty basic, and there's plenty of educational efforts underway to help produce more food.
"A normal yield for corn is about 14 bushels per acre with plenty of pests and weeds," says Harper. "No-till and basic practices of not slashing and burning are at the forefront of practices we spend the most time on. Most of my work is with high school and post-secondary students."
Harper says it's difficult to measure the impact she is making on these rural communities; however, she celebrates the little victories along the way, such as teaching the students how to make a business plan or the importance of getting colostrum in a newborn calf.
You can support Harper and other AgriCorps Fellows around the globe by checking out agricorps.org.
Many Americans will spend Christmas overseas this year. Remember the troops this holiday season by giving to an agricultural organization that provides ribeye steak dinners to service men and women and their families. Since 2007, the All-American Beef Battalion, which was started by Vietnam War veteran and Kansas cattleman Bill Broadie, has served nearly 350,000 steaks to active military. To donate, visit www.steaksfortroops.com .
Giving Tuesday can be as little as buying the coffee of the person behind you in line or as big as donating a cow to a small farmer in an impoverished rural community. Sometimes the best presents aren't wrapped under the tree, and giving back to those in need may be the most amazing gift of them all!