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Wedding Gifts with a Future
(ARA) - A mutual love of music was one of the things that drew Ann and Rick Owen together six years ago. When they were married in August 2003 at the beautiful Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark., music was an integral part of their ceremony. So were cows, ducks, pigs and goats -- at least figuratively.

That’s because the couple had asked friends and family who shared their wedding joy to make a donation in their honor to Heifer International, a nonprofit group that helps families in developing nations all over the world become self-sufficient for generations to come. Gifts given through Heifer -- milk goats, laying hens, cows, llamas, even bees, become symbolic purchases of livestock that go to impoverished people around the world. Recipients pass on offspring of their animals to others, multiplying the gift.

“We couldn’t think of a more meaningful way to let our hearts sing as we began our lives together than to ask friends and family to make donations to Heifer International as their wedding gift to us,” says Ann, who just happens to be a Heifer staff member.

“Rick and I wanted the occasion of our wedding to become a catalyst by which our family and friends could become involved with Heifer and to touch and enrich the lives of other families around the world,” says Ann. “It was our hope that a time that was so incredibly meaningful for us become so for many more.”

Ann notes that virtually all of the people that honored the couple with wedding gifts chose to do so with contributions to Heifer. “It meant so much to us that our loved ones wanted to help us create an enduring legacy for the incredible joy and happiness that we have found together,” she says. And as a result, they have many new partners in their fight to alleviate hunger and poverty.

Wedding guests were grateful for the guidance on gift giving that Ann and Rick provided. For those who were not familiar with Heifer’s mission, it gave them the opportunity to learn about the work of this 60-year-old nonprofit that was recently named one of Forbes magazines first “gold star” list of 10 recommended charities.

“My friends Henry and Keturah Collins first became familiar with Heifer when a student at Keturah’s Montessori school gave her a llama honor gift. They found the idea of contributing money to an organization that puts people on the road to self-sufficiency through the acquisition of livestock to be really quite remarkable. Since then they have chosen to honor others with Heifer animal gifts,” says Ann.

Henry adds, “When the wedding announcement offered the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful news in this way, we were happy to contribute because we saw that our gift would have enhanced meaning for Ann and Rick, and for the real recipients, wherever they may be.”

For wedding guests who already knew of Heifer’s work, it was a welcome opportunity to contribute to a group they believe in. “It was a natural to give when the perfect opportunity arose,” says Jo Ann Hoffman. She had known about Heifer for many years and was pleased to make a contribution in honor of her friends.

Heifer makes it easy to give a family a brighter future. Prices range from $10 for a share of an animal to $120 for a goat, $500 for a cow or $5,000 for a whole “Gift Ark” collection of animals.

For more information, call (800) 696-1918 or visit Heifer’s Web sites at and

Courtesy of ARA Content