Never ending Easter gift

Easter is such an exciting and fun time for little ones. They awaken early, rubbing their sleepy eyes and jump out of their beds to investigate what the Easter bunny left behind for them — a wicker basket full of chocolate eggs and marshmallow Peeps, or the first of many hidden clues to the traditional family Easter Scavenger Hunt.

Each family has their own Easter Sunday traditions. But this year, I’d like to discourage the act of leaving a live gift in your child’s basket this year. We’ve all read the stories and seen the overflow of unwanted bunnies and chicks that get deserted at the SPCA a month or so after Easter, when the reality that these cuddly little critters actually require quite a bit of care and attention becomes too much.

I can’t help but think of the Rainforest Reptile Refuge on the Cloverdale/Surrey border that used to be open to the public. I visited it a few years ago and the reptiles and critters that were there had such tragic stories of abandonment.

Although I doubt the Easter Bunny will be leaving a kid a crocodile for Easter, it made me recall the adult croc that was living there at the time. She was rescued from a travelling carnival, where she was used as part of an act. If she didn’t perform accordingly, she was burned with cigarettes once the curtains went down.

By some good fortune, she was rescued from this abusive life and ended up in the non-government funded RRR. Thats just one story of animal neglect among thousands.

However, you can still give your child a cute and fluffy chick, bunnies, goat, even a whole herd of goats! You can give her a mango tree, a calf, or even a piglet. She won’t be able to touch it or take it for a walk, but she’ll have pride in knowing she is helping other children in less fortunate places.

There are many organizations that you can make a donation to in your child’s name, and you can choose what you want to donate to a needy village in a third world country. For $15 you can give three baby chicks to a needy community in Honduras, who’ll raise them and benefit from their eggs and can breed them for sustainablility. They are fuzzy, fluffy and just plain adorable.

But more importantly, once they start laying eggs, chicks are an instant source of income, often for women, who sell the eggs, breed the chickens and help provide for their families. They are also a teaching tool for young girls to learn livestock skills that they too can use to make a living. These tiny chicks offer a hope that life can get better.

In keeping with the Easter tradition, you can purchase six rabbits for $35 (tax deductible). These bunnies can breed litters of up to 10 bunnies every 31 days. For less than what you’d spend on a family night out, you can provide a family with a business that will keep them self-sufficient, and an income that will keep their family fed.

All of these options are available through a variety of organizations, and the donations are not strictly livestock only. You can help build a home, you can contribute to a ‘zambulance’ (a bicycle driven ambulance) and you can help give young children and struggling families hope and self esteem in so many ways.

Check out these links for more information:

http://plancanada.ca/giftsofhope or call 1-800-387-1418

www.maasai-association.org

http://www.heifer.org

http://www.iwantagoat.com

-author Cindy Fletcher writes a monthly community column for The Aldergrove Star

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