Forgoing 'secret Santa,' dept. chooses livestock

by Turia Lahlou | 11/14/07 2:15am

As the holiday season approaches, the Dartmouth Center for Advanced Learning has pledged to pool the money that is usually spent on intra-office gifts to purchase a goat from Heifer International, a non-profit organization that aims to end world hunger by connecting animals with struggling families worldwide.

Administrative Assistant to DCAL Diane Chamberlain, brought the idea to a team meeting after hearing about Heifer International from her daughter, who had listed the charity on her wedding gift registry.

"I have a work-studies student who is international and hearing her stories versus how much our community has, made me want to be a philanthropist," Chamberlain said. "People feel obligated to give gifts and I think it would be nice to give a gift lasts all year to the less fortunate people rather than perfume or fruit cake."

Through Heifer, a person or organization can purchase animals like ducks, llamas, and water buffaloes to help families in the developing world improve their standard of life in a sustainable way.

Chamberlain would like people to sponsor worthwhile causes and spread sustainability this holiday season. She would also like to see awareness of Project Heifer grow throughout the Dartmouth community.

"My goal is to see departments that do gift exchanges pool money and make a donation," Chamberlain said. "If we want to make this more large-scale we will need several departments to join in and to involve students."

DCAL team member Cynthia Tobery said she believes encouraging sustainability in third world countries is a good way to give for the holidays.

"I decided to donate because it seemed like a good cause," Tobery said. "I liked the idea of spreading holiday giving beyond our local community."

Chamberlain has experimented with giving to charities on behalf of others during the holiday season and said it is more meaningful than giving "useless junk."

"People feel obligated to give a holiday gift so this is a good alternative," Chamberlain said. "I've given gift cards to charities on behalf of friends and families and the response is always positive."

DCAL, based in Baker library, "advances undergraduate and graduate learning by providing and coordinating services that promote and support effective teaching," according to its website. DCAL encourages and supports research about teaching and learning."