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Goat giving gathers steam with benefits far past Christmas

Goats. Gratitude. And giving back. That’s what Ken Goud’s initiative “Food for Food” is all about. This year, he purchased 160 goats from World Renew’s gift catalogue while also feeding those in need. With the help of daughter Danielle, Goud organizes and cooks a gourmet feast each year for those who don’t have a place to go for Christmas dinner. From the donations, they’ve been able to buy 1,022 goats in seven years.

In 1999, Goud’s 18-month-old daughter Ashley was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. After a courageous battle, she died in November 2002. Throughout Ashley’s illness and in the tough years following her death, Goud’s family was blessed with overwhelming support from their church and community.

“I really wanted to find a way to pay it forward,” said Goud. “So in 2009, I cooked a Christmas dinner in our home in hopes of raising enough money to buy four or five goats.” He cooked for 80 friends and acquaintances, raising enough funds to purchase 94 goats.

Goud began volunteering at Mission Services the following year and realized that many clients wouldn’t have a Christmas dinner. He decided to invite them to his home, emailing friends and suppliers to see if they would sponsor a guest for dinner.

Since 2010, the Gouds have hosted dinners for over 300 people through programs at Mission Services, the Drummond House and 541 Eatery and with sponsorships from the Vennamans, Dundas Christian Reformed Church and many others. His children and friends are tireless servers and dishwashers.

Goud chose World Renew because of the organization’s affiliation with his church, its responsible management of donations and stewardly administration costs. Others who chose World Renew express similar reasons. At Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Ottawa, the “Search the Scriptures” group have a Goat Challenge each Advent. Organizer Trudy Heerema created several fun slogans for their program like “Gotta Get a Goat” or “Got a special kid in your life?”

“It’s become a tradition at our church,” said Heerema. When someone purchases a goat, they hang up a tag on the Christmas tree set up in their church. Since 2009, they have donated 625 goats and a flock of sheep.

‘Chicks for Charity’
For Angela Kaptein, the gift catalogue was already a Christmas family tradition. Kaptein and her friend Cathy Roest love crafting items like scarves, stuffed toys, doll clothes and up-cycled furniture. This past November, they decided to sell their items, calling themselves “Chicks for Charity,” with the profit of the sale going to purchase chickens for Honduras.

“We chose our name because Cathy and I farm chickens. We’re ‘chicks’ and our fundraising donates chickens, helping more ‘chicks’ [women] in Honduras raise chickens,” explained Kaptein. They display gift catalogues at their booth so customers can learn more about the donated funds. Sales were phenomenal; in just two months, they could purchase 30 chickens.

Through initiatives like these as well as with individual donations, over 12 million dollars has been raised through World Renew’s gift catalogue program since 2001.

“We’ve heard from countless people who tell us that the gift catalogue is now a meaningful part of their annual Christmas tradition,” said World Renew’s communications manager Kristen de Roo VanderBerg. “It enables them to reflect on the gift of Jesus at Christmas and give thanks for that gift by sharing with others.”

Gratitude. That is the heart of each of these initiatives. While Lily Hardy Hammond may have coined the phrase in 1916 writing “You don’t pay love back, you pay it forward,” Christians know that this concept was taught long before that by Jesus himself.

“We are so blessed and it’s wonderful that we can bless others through World Renew,” said Kaptein.

The money raised for goats also provides training in goat-rearing, veterinary care and some of the staffing costs, a holistic approach to community development. The same is true for the chicken programs. Women in Honduras received laying hens and boiler chickens but also training in poultry farming and financial assistance for building a coop or henhouse.

As part of some goat programs at World Renew, recipients can give their first baby goat to another member of their community. In Honduras, women use the income from their poultry farming to provide for their own families but have also hired others to help, creating employment in their communities.

“In seeing [the guests’] heartfelt gratitude and knowing at the same time we are raising money for goats, that’s what keeps me motivated,” said Goud. “I imagine that sense of gratitude is also happening in where the goats are given.”

  • Krista Dam-VandeKuyt lives in Jerseyville, Ont. with husband Rob and their children Ethan, Eliya and Zoë. They are members at Ancaster Christian Reformed Church.

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