June 01, 2016

Thirty-five years ago this October, something remarkable began. Festival of Sharing is the realization of a dream to do something about hunger and poverty plaguing our communities, state and world. They believed then and we continue to believe now that people of faith working together can make a profound difference in the lives of people in need. Building on the United Methodist yearly efforts of the Bishop’s Convocation, an ecumenical group gathered together to share their resources with and advocate for their neighbors. 
    
Heifer International has been a key partner from the beginning. During that original event, farmers from around the state brought livestock to share. Pastor Cowboys and other volunteers then took these offerings to people in need. During ordination, pastors vow to give their lives in the Christlike service of others. Yet, these Pastor Cowboys likely did not imagine this would mean flying in gutted airplanes with penned animals to starving people in Central America.
    
Heifer and Festival recognized giving live animals was not sustainable and in the 1990s our support became primarily financial. This gave Heifer the ability to buy animals from local communities, which bolstered the economy and supplied animals who would thrive in their given setting. They focus their efforts on training and sustaining healthy communities. 
    
During our 35 years of partnering with Heifer, your generosity has raised an astounding $1,369,379.48. Though we do not have an exact number of animals this supplied, we can make an estimate. An ark gift is $5,000 and this supplies communities with 2 water buffalos, 2 cows, 2 sheep, bees, chicks, rabbits and more. Based on this ratio, we have donated 273 arks. Can you imagine the difference 546 water buffalo, 546 cows, 546 sheep makes to a starving community? Mothers and fathers in communities no longer have to give their only food to their children or mourn how their children are going to bed hungry. These animals mean more than food, they translate to sustainable communities thriving with access to school, medicine and hope.
    
The founder of Festival of Sharing, Rev. Mel West says, “If you want a significant response, ask for something significant.” In an effort to honor and celebrate our 35 years of partnership, we are asking for $35,000 to continue our support for Heifer. Trinity United Methodist Church, a small, but generous church has already pledged $1,000 under the faithful leadership of Rev. Fred Royer. Please join them and use your creativity to raise funds for this amazing partnership. Visit fundraise.heifer.org/festivalofsharing to learn more and order resources to help your efforts.
    
Thank you for supporting Festival of Sharing and please plan to join us in Sedalia for our 35th celebration on October 15th (www.festivalofsharing.org).